A new military report found that on-base housing managed by private companies was rife with mold, lead paint, asbestos, and dangerous water quality, according to CNBC. Military families who suffered health issues due to substandard military housing may be able to recover from their building management company. Contact us to find out if you have a case.
New Report: Privatized On-Base Housing Leaves Military Families in Poor Conditions
A new report published by the Military Family Advisory Network found that privatized military housing suffered from poor living conditions.
Nearly all on-base housing in now privatized, according to CNBC, since the Department of Defense began privatizing in 1996. Ninety-nine percent of on-base housing is now run by private companies, CNBC reports. Private military housing companies were paid $3.9 billion in rent allowances in 2018, according to Reuters.
The largest military housing companies, according to CNBC, are:
- Corvias Group
- Hunt Military Communities
- Balfour Beatty Communities
- Lincoln Military Housing
- Americas Lendlease
The new report concluded that:
(1) Military families are living in dangerous situations with reports of the existence of black mold, lead paint, faulty wiring, poor water quality, pesticides, and a wide variety of vermin, insects, and other animals (e.g., bats, skunks, and squirrels) in their homes.
(2) Families report illnesses with life-long implications caused by poor housing conditions.
(3) Respondents file reports and request remediation, which is often denied or ignored.
Past Military Housing Mold Lawsuits
In 2012, gunnery sergeant Joe Federico sued Lincoln Military Housing, the largest military housing provider, over mold exposure he said made him, his wife, and his daughter sick, reports Reuters. A lawyer for Lincoln told the court that environmental testing had found no mold, Reuters reports, but on the eve of trial, Federico’s lawyers discovered that Lincoln had altered the report to remove a recommendation that it reduce mold spore levels in Federico’s home.
At trial, Federico won, and the jury awarded him $350,000, according to Reuters. In the Norfolk, Virginia area alone — from 2012 to 2016 — Lincoln Military Housing spent $13 million on litigation and remediation related to mold blooms.
Past Studies Find Extensive Mold Problems in Military Housing
After media reports in 2012 about widespread mold problems in military housing, Congress forced Lincoln Military Housing to do mold inspections on 848 homes, reports Reuters. The inspections found that 77% of homes had mold and needed to be remediated, according to Reuters. This study was not released to the public until 2018, when Reuters demanded it.
In 2018, Reuters did its own investigating of military housing conditions. It found that:
Two of the most widespread hazards families face on bases are rodents and mold. Across the United States, tenants at six bases told Reuters of their struggles with mice. Complaints of mold were even more widespread, with families at 20 bases describing outbreaks.
Reuters reports that one family at Camp Pendleton had so many rodents in their on-base apartment that among their two-year-old’s first words was “mouse poop.” Lincoln Military Housing blamed the rodent problem on the family’s housekeeping, according to Reuters, but the previous tenants had reported the rodent problem as well. The family had to take out a $4,000 loan to move off-base, fearing for the health of their young child.
Military Housing Problems Caused By Weak Tenant Rights
As Reuters reports, tenants rights in many states, such as California, are very strong. California, for example, allows tenants to withhold rent until landlords fix serious health hazards, such as mold. In contrast, military housing providers typically receive rent payments directly from the military, so tenants cannot withhold rent, reports Reuters. In its investigation of military housing conditions, Reuters found that:
Tenant rights are set by the military and private landlords under contracts that give companies control of housing for 50 years but lack basic protections civilians take for granted. As a result, military families have little recourse in resolving health threats such as rodents and mold.