SFA – Retention & Base Port Agreement
In general terms, Service personnel who are either married or in a Civil Partnership are entitled to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) within a ten-mile radius of their place of work.
If you are occupying SFA in one of the three Base Port Areas (Portsmouth, Plymouth or Faslane) then you can retain your SFA on assignment to a new Duty Station, but in advance of your assignment date you must log onto the e1132 form (application to occupy SFA) via the Defence Intranet. You need to click the button ‘retain current SFA on posting within the Base Port Scheme’. This should be done within 14 days of receiving your Assignment Order and should be done on each assignment in order for your retention expiry date to be amended. Your occupancy data is updated and your continued entitled occupation can be confirmed for allowance purposes or for disturbance if moving at a later date.
What happens in the background is that the stock management system then recognises you as part of the Naval Service and therefore able to remain in your Port Area. If you don’t inform the ‘system’ that you wish to remain it thinks that there is not a match between your assignment location and SFA location which prompts Amey to issue you with a Notice to Vacate. You need to be aware that if you occupy Substitute SFA (SSFA) in one of the Port Areas retention will be granted, but you will be expected to move to SFA if and when there is suitable availability within that Port Area.
If you are serving away from a Base Port area and you are then assigned away from the area then you should apply for SFA at your next place of duty. There are exceptions to this regulation, however, you must apply for a retention.
There has to be explicit reasons to retain that are recognised under the regulations and you will need to provide appropriate supporting documentation at the time of the application. A number of retention criteria require Chain of Command support particularly for welfare or medical reasons when, in the first instance, the Local Service Commander will consider the case in consultation with appropriate medical, welfare (RNRMW and Divisional system), educational agencies and Amey Occupancy Service. If agreed, retentions will be granted for a period of up to 12 months (you can re-request prior to expiry if the circumstances continue to persist) and confirms continued entitled occupation for allowance and disturbance purposes.
If a retention request is unsuccessful it does not form any kind of bar to future use of SFA, but it may be that if you wish to stay in a particular location (other than Port Area) for a period of time beyond assignment dates, then housing options outside the SFA estate will need to be considered such as rental or purchase. There are schemes for Tenancy Deposit Loans (DIB201516) which enables personnel to receive an advance of pay for rental properties or the Forces Help to Buy Scheme for assistance to buy into the property market. More information can be found here.
Tri-Service SFA and SSFA accommodation regulations are contained in JSP464 Volume 1 parts 1 and 2 here or via DII. Retention is fully covered in Chapter 7, Paragraph 0725 and includes guidance for all retention criteria.