Air Force leaders propose allowing families to withhold rent for substandard base housing

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee for Defense June 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. The subcommittee hearing was held to discuss the FY2018 budget request for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

The US Air Force is seeking to give military families more say when it comes to challenging hazardous military housing conditions, opting to push Congress to enact a “tenant bill of rights” for military families who feel trapped.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and USAF Chief of Staff David Goldfein outlined the proposals, which will allow families to withhold rent or break leases if housing conditions are unsafe.

Complaints are often fielded to the deaf ears of private industry landlords, who ignore vermin infestations, mold, lead paint and other issues infamously common in military housing.

“Clearly there are areas where we have issues,” Goldfein said.

The US Air Force has been making widespread reforms in recent weeks following a recent Reuters expose, which documented the shoddy housing conditions across the nation and outlined how military families often have fewer rights than their civilian counterparts.

According to Reuters, the USAF, along with other branches of the Armed Forces, is now pushing to make things right, by offering a tenant bill of rights.

In addition, wing commanders of each USAF base have been directed to conduct massive inspections of military housing by March 1.

The Air Force is also looking at working with Congress to renegotiate privatized military housing contracts, even going so far as to withhold incentive fees from low-performing landlord companies.

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