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Housing Tag

When living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), you will need to insure your home.

 

Standard home liability insurance does not cover Service family accommodation (SFA).

 

The Ministry of Defence recommends (JSP 464, Volume 1, Part 1, Section I, Paragraph 0605) that you take out a specialist type of insurance that covers your liability, up to £20,000, for any damage you or your family may do to your Service family accommodation. This is called ‘Licence to Occupy’ insurance.

 

The Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP) provides details of insurance providers who can ensure that you have the necessary ‘Licence to Occupy’ cover.

 

You may also wish to take out home contents insurance.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018

What is the scheme?

Regular Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel can benefit from a £200 million scheme to help them get on the property ladder. The Forces Help to Buy scheme enables Servicemen and Servicewomen to borrow up to 50% of their salary, interest free, to buy their first home or move to another property on assignment or as their families needs’ change.

The pilot scheme, which launched in April 2014, aims to address the low rate of home ownership in the Armed Forces.

 

Who can use the scheme?

All regular personnel who:

  • have completed 12 months service from the date of enlistment; AND
  • have completed Phase One Training.; AND
  • meet the right medical categories.

Please refer to JSP 464 (part 1 directive) for more details.

 

How much can be borrowed under the scheme?

This scheme allows Service personnel to borrow up to 50% of their annual salary, to a maximum of £25,000. This can be used towards a deposit and other costs such as solicitor’s and estate agent’s fees.

 

How to get it?

Servicemen and Servicewomen can apply for the loan online through the Joint Personnel Administration system and can seek advice on their application through their Chain of Command and personnel agency.

If you are considering buying a home, but have not done so before, you may wish to read some general information on how to buy one and understand better how the process works.

 

Find out about buying a home

Below are links to useful information:

First time buyer guide

Citizens Advice Bureau

The Money Advice Service

Moneyforce

Help to Buy

Home and Communities Agency

Joint service housing advice office (JSHAO)

HM Revenue & Customs guidance

 

Closing date
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced on 22nd October 2019 that the Forces Help to Buy initiative will remain open to new applications until the end of 2022.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Updated on: 6th April, 2020

In April 2017 the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) launched a compensation scheme in the UK to cover missed appointments and significant issues at move-in for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and Substitute Service Family Accommodation (SSFA).

 

Please note that claims must be made within 14 days of the issue occurring. Once an application is received, the DIO Compensation Claim Team will then consider the claim and the claimant will be informed whether this has been accepted or rejected. If accepted, this will be in the form of High Street Vouchers – please be aware that no alternatives will be offered; if rejected, then the reasons for this will be explained. There will be no appeals process.

 

For full information/to apply for this scheme, please click here.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Updated on: 16th February, 2021

For enquiries about loss of entitlement to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) resulting from retirement, redundancy, discharge or estrangement, please contact the Loss of Entitlement Team by telephoning 01904 418000 or 94510 8000. Please note their phone lines are only operational between 9.00am – 12 noon and from 1.00pm – 3.00pm.

 

They are contactable via email throughout the whole working day at DIORDAccn-LOETeam@mod.gov.uk

 

 

If you believe that you will lose entitlement to SFA in the future, or find yourself in this situation, advice is available from a variety of sources. As well as the Joint Service Housing Advice Office, other sources of information and advice are: service charities; families federations; housing advice centres; and local authorities.

 

Customer service centres

There are a number of Amey Defence Services customer service centres throughout the UK. These offices provide you with the opportunity to discuss any issues about services provided by Amey Defence Service face-to-face.

 

To find your nearest local customer service centre either contact the Amey Defence Services Helpdesk on 0800 707 6000 or view the link above.

 

Base Port Agreement

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 Defence Services 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 (NS FPS and Divisional system), educational agencies and Amey Defence Services 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.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Updated on: 25th October, 2019

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 (NS FPS 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.

 

Updated on: 2nd December, 2019

Visit the Amey Defence Services website for details on moving out of UK SFA, arranging a pre move out appointment and find out details about the Walk Away Cleaning Scheme.

 

Move out

Your move out will be attended by an Amey Defence Services Accommodation Officer who will inspect your SFA to determine if it meets the agreed move out standard.

If the standard is not satisfactory and there are deficiencies or damages that are not considered to be fair wear and tear, or you have failed to clean the property properly, a charge will be raised by the Accommodation Officer and you will be invoiced accordingly.

In this instance an appropriate Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) action will be taken by the Amey Defence Services Occupancy Services team to cease accommodation charges on that property from the date of your move out.

For more information, please click here.

 

Removal services

Agility Logistics Limited (Agility) is the MOD approved service provider for removals and is part of the Global Removal Management Services (GRMS).

 

Charges for damage and deficiencies for SFA and Substitute SFA recovery from pay

When you move out of UK Service Family Accommodation (SFA) or Substitute Service Family Accommodation (SSFA), you may be liable for charges for damages or deficiencies that are not classed as fair wear and tear or because you have failed to prepare the property to the correct standard, for example cleanliness.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) can take these directly from the pay of serving personnel. Any payments taken depend on the size of the charge and individual monthly income (using MOD guidelines to ensure that deductions do not exceed a set limit of pay).

If you consider that you are not responsible for the charges, or part of them, for example that the damage is the result of fair wear and tear, you are able to dispute the charge raised using the Disputed charges form’.

 

Full details on moving out of your SFA and recoveries from pay are available in:

JSP 464: Tri-Service accommodation regulations (TSARs)Part 1

JSP 754: Recoveries from pay (available on the Defence Intranet only)

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2018
Updated on: 30th August, 2018

If you are not happy with the level of service you have received from Amey Defence Services you can make a formal complaint. The complaint process is split into 3 stages, as outlined below.

 

Stage 1 – Amey Defence Services

Complaints (our Frontline Complaints team)

  • Online Stage One Complaints Form (click here to raise/discuss a new or existing stage one complaint)
  • WebChat (click the message icon from the bottom right-hand corner of the page)
  • Facebook Messenger (send a private message to the team to start a chat)
  • Twitter message (send a private message to the team to start a chat)
  • Text message: 07860063407 (send a text to start a chat)
  • Telephone: 0800 707 6000 (option 5)

Email: customercare@ameydefenceservices.co.uk

The Customer Solutions Manager will investigate your complaint and aim to resolve within 10 working days

 

Stage 2 – Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO)

If your complaint has been formally closed at stage 1 and you are not satisfied with the response, you can then escalate your complaint to the DIO Customer Services Team.

You can do this in 3 ways:

  1. Online: by completing the online stage 2 complaint form, which for security reasons is only available on the MOD Intranet. To access the form, copy and paste the following URL into your browser address bar when logged on to the Defence Intranet: http://defenceintranet.diif.r.mil.uk/libraries/3/Docs1/20150612.1/DIO-SD-Accn-Stage2-Complaint-Form.xsn
  2. Email: by emailing the DIO Customer Service Team setting out your stage 2 complaint so that you include:
  • the stage 1 complaint reference number;
  • your name and telephone number;
  • the SFA address relating to your complaint;
  • why you are not happy with the result of your stage 1 complaint;
  • what desired outcome or remedy you are seeking.

Any emails not containing all of this information will not be accepted by the Customer Service Team. Please send your email to: DIOSDAccn-Stage2NOREPLY@mod.uk.

  1. by writing to the DIO Customer Service Team setting out your stage 2 complaint ensuring you include the information highlighted above.

Customer Service Team
DIO Service Delivery Accommodation
Ground Floor, Mail Point No. 4
Swales Pavilion
RAF Wyton
Cambridgeshire
PE28 2EA

If you make a stage 2 complaint, DIO will have access to your stage 1 complaints details and records, so you do not need to re-submit the full details of your complaint.

DIO will acknowledge it within 3 working days and provide you with a reference number. An investigation will then be carried out, however there is no standard response time due to the need to further investigate complaints that vary in nature and complexity.

 

Stage 3 – Independent Housing Review Panel

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage 1 and stage 2, you can escalate your complaint to the Independent Housing Review Panel by writing to:

Independent Housing Review Panel
People Accommodation
Ministry of Defence
Floor 6, Zone N
Main Building
Whitehall
London
SW1A 2HB

* Due to COVID-19, the panel team are unable to retrieve any of the stage 3 housing complaint letters. Please kindly redirect your communications to People-Accom-ACRP-Stage3@mod.gov.uk.

 

Posted on: 3rd July, 2017
Updated on: 6th April. 2020

Message from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO):

 

Sub-letting of Service Family Accommodation

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has initiated a long-term project to sub-let empty Service homes that are not currently required.

As well as the normal management margin required to ensure properties are available for families where we have sufficient homes, DIO has retained some additional properties until the future needs of Defence are fully known.

This approach gives us flexibility to manage the requirements of the Front Line Commands. However, empty properties do no generate any income, and instead draw revenue away that could otherwise be invested elsewhere in the estate.

The needs of Service personnel and their families has been considered throughout this project, therefore entitled and eligible Service personnel continue to take priority for SFA and should apply for accommodation as they normally would.

Where there is no requirement from Service families, empty properties will considered on a site by site basis in consultation with local commanders, for sub-let to private tenants – who will be subject to credit and reference checks. This will be on a short term arrangement, so we could return homes back to MOD control if a requirement emerges.

Overall, our planning has been to implement this project without disadvantaging Service personnel, whilst maximising revenue from rental receipts from empty properties that are currently not required.

 

Questions and Answers 

Why are these properties being sub-let?

The current size and cost of the Defence estate is not sustainable, including the cost of maintaining empty Service homes. The MOD and DIO are undertaking a number of initiatives to address these issues. In addition to other initiatives such as disposals, a sub-let project has begun with the aim of generating income through short term lets, whilst providing flexibility to meet the future needs of defence.

 

How many houses could be sub-let under this arrangement?

An initial 2,300 homes could be made available under these arrangements.

 

Will Service personnel and their families be affected?

All of our planning has been to ensure that families are not affected. We:

  • Have chosen sites where there is adequate surplus accommodation that is not required.
  • Plan where possible to release houses in groups rather than individual properties so they can be managed more effectively.
  • Have considered security.
  • Will consult with local commanders and other stakeholders so we understand any local issues.
  • Aim to ensure that Service families are not disadvantaged.

Where additional revenue is going?

Revenue raised by this project will be returned to DIO as part of its overall running and investment in the estate – therefore it will be targeted to where it is needed most to meet the needs of defence.

 

How has security been considered?

Specific security issues will be considered at each site. Furthermore every potential private tenant will be subject to credit and reference checks.

 

Has the Chain of Command been consulted?

The Chain of Command and other stakeholders will be consulted and their feedback will be taken into consideration. Service families in each area will also be informed.

 

Who is going to get these houses?

The properties will be available on the open private rental market, with potential tenants subject to normal credit and reference checks.

 

Will it affect Service families’ access to housing or the maintenance service?

Service families will continue to get Service homes and the normal contracted response repair times will continue to apply. We will monitor this performance as we do now.

 

Will the properties be improved for the private tenants?

These properties will not be improved, but they will be prepared and checked for maintenance and safety prior to occupation, just as they are for Service families prior to move in. Investment for improving Service homes will continue to be targeted at homes occupied by Service families.

The NFF welcomes your thoughts/feedback, please email us on contactus@nff.org.uk or call 023 9265 4374.

 

Posted on: 26th April, 2017

Armed Forces personnel redeployed within the UK will now be able to rent out their homes without facing higher costs or having to change their mortgage.

 

This commitment from the majority of the UK’s high street banks and building societies is an extension to the offer made back in January 2016, which allowed service personnel posted overseas to rent out their homes at no extra cost.

 

Previously, members of the Armed Forces who rented out their homes during deployment could have been required to change their residential mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage, often incurring new charges and an increased rate of interest. Under the new agreement they will no longer have to do this, saving both time and money.

 

The initiative is supported by 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies, including Barclays, HSBC and Nationwide, and the change will benefit almost 265,000 people in the UK and abroad.

 

British Bankers’ Association CEO Anthony Browne said:

“Members of our Armed Forces work all over the world to look after us, so it’s only right that we look after them. The extra support provided by the main mortgage providers will make sure service personnel and their families are not disadvantaged when they are required to work away from home and want to rent out their house, and make their mortgages fairer”.

 

Posted on: 10th January, 2017

If your sole/main residence in England is left empty, due to Service-related reasons, then you should be eligible for a council tax discount of 50% on that home for the duration it remains unoccupied. However, in order to qualify for that discount, you must demonstrate that your current home is job-related, by meeting at least one of the criteria set out within the regulations approved by Parliament.

 

These regulations state that a dwelling is job-related for a person if it is provided for you by reason of your employment or for your spouse or civil partner by reason of the spouse’s/civil partner’s employment, in any of the following cases:

  1. Where it is necessary for the proper performance of the individual’s duties that they should reside in the dwelling;
  2. Where the dwelling is provided for the better performance of the individual’s duties and their employment is one of the kinds in which it is customary for the employer to provide dwellings to their employees;
  3. Where there is a special threat to the individual’s security which means that special security arrangements are in force and the individual resides in the dwelling as part of these arrangements.

 

It is for the local authority to consider Service personnel’s particular circumstances and evidence, and decide whether the provisions apply or not. If the local authority is satisfied that the provisions have been met, a 50% discount will apply. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government) has written to local authorities to remind them of their duties under the Armed Forces Covenant.

 

What does this mean for Service personnel?

If their home is unoccupied because the Service person has been provided with Service accommodation (by reason of employment), then Service personnel should be eligible for this discount. However, it is ultimately for them to demonstrate to their local authority their eligibility by providing evidence to satisfy at least one of the three criteria above. They may also be eligible for the discount if the dwelling has been provided to the spouse or civil partner by reason of that person’s employment.

 

What to do next?

Service Personnel should approach their local authority to find out if they are eligible for the discount. In doing so, they may be asked to provide any confirmation they might have from their Service employer regarding the applicability of any of the three categories set out above. This could include a copy of their Assignment Order and/or the MOD Licence to Occupy. When a Service person believes that they should be eligible but their local authority refuses to provide the full discount, you should contact us here at the Naval Families Federation and we can engage directly with the MOD Armed Forces Covenant team.

 

Further information

This letter reminds local authorities about the position of service personnel when applying for a job-related Council Tax discount.

 

Posted on: 17th November, 2016
Last updated on: 7th June, 2018