Smith, Thornberry, Garamendi and Lamborn Urge DOD to Expand Tenant Bill of Rights as Required by Law

February 28, 2020
Press Release

Contact: Cassandra Sebastian (719) 520-0055

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Subcommittee on Readiness Chairman John Garamendi (D-CA), and Ranking Member Doug Lamborn (R-CO) today issued the following statement after the Department of Defense released their Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights:
“While the Tenant Bill of Rights outlines a number of protections for military families, the document released by the Department of Defense still falls short in a few critical ways. The omission of vital protections leaves our service members and their families vulnerable to continued mistreatment by housing companies and undermines the efficacy of the entire bill of rights.
“Specifically, the document does not include three items outlined in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act: the right to dispute resolution, the ability to withhold rent, and access to a home’s maintenance history. Congress didn’t suggest these protections, we mandated them. They are vital to holding the Department and housing companies accountable. The Department cannot drop them just because they are difficult to implement.
“The Department maintains they were unprepared for these requirements. This is troubling given that during our months of work on the FY20 NDAA, we clearly articulated the importance of these protections to the Department and to the private partners. Given the number of hearings and overwhelming bipartisan support for the legislation in the FY20 NDAA, the privatized housing partners should understand the intent of Congress, which could not have been clearer. This Committee is fully prepared to convene additional hearings and consider additional legislation if DOD cannot resolve these issues.
“The good news is that the Tenant Bill of Rights is a living document. As such, we will continue our oversight of the Department to ensure all the critical protections included in the FY20 NDAA are afforded to our military families as soon as possible. We remain committed to providing relief to our military families and will work diligently to ensure these protections are incorporated into the Tenant Bill of Rights as swiftly as possible.”