Military Housing Rules & Regulations

Understanding military housing regulations will help you make an informed housing choice.
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Living in military housing brings with it many advantages. You're surrounded by families that share a common interest and most times, military housing communities are safe. However, there are numerous rules and regulations that accompany your stay that don't apply to the civilian world. For example, the size of your quarters depends on the size of your family and you must seek approval before your spouse can work from your assigned quarters.

1 Housing Size

The Department of Defense sets the policy for determining the size of your quarters based on your pay grade and number of family members. The general rule, inventory permitting, allows for one bedroom per child. So, if a married soldier has three children, he is entitled to a four-bedroom house. There are exceptions for certain pay grades. For example, there are nine enlisted pay grades: E-1 is the lowest grade and E-9 is the highest. Service members in pay grades E-8 and E-9 receive a minimum of three bedrooms regardless of family size. Officer ranks follow a scale of 10 levels, O-1 to O-10, with O-10 being the highest. Homes for officers in pay grades O-4 and include at least three bedrooms, depending on the service member's rank. Warrant officers follow a pay scale of WO1 to CW5. Warrant officers carrying ranks CW4 and CW5 are considered chief warrant officers and receive a minimum of three bedrooms as well. Single soldiers with no children do not stay in military family housing; they either live in the barracks or rent off post.

2 Tenant Responsibilities

As a resident in military housing, you do not pay rent or utilities. However, when you move in, you forfeit your basic allowance for housing, the funds soldiers receive when they live off post and pay rent and utilities. You are responsible for the care and upkeep of the home and you must immediately report any changes to your household status such as a divorce. When you move, the housing office will conduct an inspection of the property and cite any damages not credited to normal wear and tear. You are financially responsible for all damages caused by you or your family's neglect.

3 Working From Home

Military spouses can operate a business or work from their base housing with approval from their base. Home-based jobs for spouses include running a day care center, sewing, dog-grooming, writing, bookkeeping and catering. You must also comply with all applicable state laws as well when working from home.

4 Housing Privatization

In 1996, military bases began partnering with civilian housing communities to offer quarters to soldiers to ease the burden of inadequate housing options. Under the plan, military families live in civilian housing and pay no more than their BAH amount for rent and utilities. The rent is determined by subtracting 110 percent of the average payment for utility costs from your housing allowance. For example, if your BAH is $500 and the average utility cost in a comparable home is $100, then your rent will be $390, $500 - $110.

5 Informative Regulations

Housing rules and regulations are governed under DOD 4165.63-M. Each branch of service writes its own policy but follows the guidelines set in the DOD directive. The Army uses AR 410-1, Army Facilities Management. The Air Force follows Air Force Policy Directive 32-60, Housing. The Marine Corp refers to Marine Corp Order MCO P11000.22, Marine Corp Housing Management Manual. The Navy follows CNICINST 11103.5, Navy Housing Eligibility, Assignment and Termination Criteria. From there, each base usually writes its own community housing manual.

6 Overseas and Separation Policies

Service members living overseas with their families receive a housing allowance similar to living stateside. However, if you're a soldier who lives overseas without your family, you might be considered unaccompanied and therefore probably won't receive family housing. However, in many cases you'll receive a housing allowance to pay housing costs for your family stateside. Under certain circumstances, if the Army mandates you move to another base stateside, but your family can't relocate, you can transfer unaccompanied and receive a housing allowance for them.

Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.