If you are living with rodent feces, black mold, lead paint, no heat, or dangerous structural damage in a rental house on a military base, you have every right to move your family out to a safer location and you should not be penalized for doing so. However, it’s unlikely that the private company who is managing the housing on base will let you go that easily. In order to exercise your rights, you will probably need a lawyer to fight for you.
Your Right to Habitable Housing
All branches of the military at bases across the country have contracted out management of housing to private partners such as Lincoln Military Housing. The Department of Defense did this 20 years ago because the military could not afford to repair older housing or build new housing. However, on many bases, these companies have done a terrible job of maintaining, repairing, cleaning, and removing pests from the housing they now manage. As a result, servicemembers are finding themselves living in substandard housing that is making them and their children ill.
It’s important to understand that—even though you live on federal property and your landlord is a government contractor—you still have the same tenant rights that everyone else in your state has. One of those rights is the right to housing that is habitable.
The Cost of Moving Out of Your Military Housing
What has unfortunately been happening at bases like Camp Pendleton in California is that families have had to move out of their base housing because their landlord has refused to remove hazards like mold and rodents, making the house unsafe to live in. Fearing for their safety, these families have spent thousands of dollars to move and have also lost security deposits or even been charged cleaning fees by their landlords. This is not only unacceptable—it is illegal. If you have reported the problem to your landlord and they have failed to fix it, rendering it uninhabitable, the landlord has broken their end of the lease. They have also violated federal law by constructively evicting you without a court order.
What Can You Do About it?
The sooner you call me, the more I will be able to help. If you have taken pictures of the conditions in your home and you have a record of the complaints you have filed with your landlord, we will be in a strong position to sue them to not only get your deposit returned, but for additional damages as well. Even if you don’t have solid documentation, do not hesitate to call me for help. No matter where you live, I will go to work protecting you right to livable housing. Contact me online and I will be in touch as soon as possible.