On this page:
Eligibility for final removals
Charges on move-out
The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO)
Forces Help to Buy Scheme
Notice to vacate guidance for SFA customers from DIO
Irregular Occupancy – What happens when a ‘Notice to Vacate’ has expired?
Has a local council refused a Certificate of Cessation?
The Cotswold Centre - a temporary housing solution
The Army doesn’t pay for your first or final move, so please be aware of the costs associated with moving and prepare accordingly. There is a little known regulation covering ‘Final Tour of Duty’ requests. Provision does exist for paying both Disturbance Expense (DE) and Removal of Personal Effects (RPE) at public expense for a final move, providing that a request to reside in a particular area has previously been made to the appropriate Career Manager. For more information, click here.Back to top
All charges for damages and deficiencies on SFA and SSFA in the UK are now recovered from the soldier’s pay. For more information on how to prepare for move-out, click here.Back to top
The Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) provides advice and guidance, to you and the serving soldier, about housing options when making the transition to civilian life.Back to top
Social housing is very scarce and most councils have long waiting lists – the Armed Forces Covenant means that you will not be disadvantaged by not having a local connection, however, it will NOT mean that you get to the top of the list. Click here for more details.
The scheme aims to address low levels of home ownership in the Armed Forces, overcoming the disadvantages that mobility brings in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. It will support greater lifestyle choice and retention of personnel. If you have at least six months left to serve at the time of application you may be eligible. Click here for further details.
When your entitlement to SFA finishes, perhaps because of end of Service, divorce or discharge, you will be issued with a Notice to Vacate (NTV) by DIO.
An NTV is legal notice of the termination of your licence to occupy SFA and is generally 93 days. During this period, you will still pay Service rates for the property and this money will still be collected direct from your soldier via JPA.
For more information on why it is issued and what you should do when you have received it, click here.
Although it happens more than you might think, Irregular Occupancy isn’t a subject commonly discussed, unless you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of perhaps a marital breakdown, or just at the end of your Service. Forget the term illegal occupancy (as it is often called), there is nothing illegal about finding yourself in an SFA when your entitlement has ceased. Read more
If your soldier is leaving the Services, then the housing briefs offered during resettlement are a good source of information about when you are expected to move out of your SFA and what help is available to assist you with finding a future home. Spouses are welcome to attend these briefings with their soldier.
Here is a quick summary of the main circumstances and timings involved when occupants are required to move out of an SFA; in all cases it is the DIO Loss of Entitlement team (LOET) that sends you the Notice to Vacate:
- If you are or are about to become an IO as a result of retirement, redundancy, discharge or separation, call the DIO Loss of Entitlement team on 01904 418000 (Military 94510 8000) or email DIOSDAccn-LOETeam@mod.uk
- In the case of marriage or civil partnership breakdown, the Notice to Vacate will give you 93 days from the day the LOET is notified of the change in marital status. The serving soldier should inform his/her unit of the change of marital status and the unit will inform the LOET.
- In the case of a standard discharge or retirement from the Services, you are required to give the LOET at least four months' notice of your soldier’s last day of Service. 93 days' Notice to Vacate will then be given to coincide with the discharge date. If less notice is given, then the Notice to Vacate period will be reduced accordingly.
- In areas where SFA availability is good, it may be possible to apply to remain in your home past your leaving date on a ‘surplus’ basis; market rate is charged for the rental of the property and a maximum occupation period of six months is permitted.
- For a medical discharge, 93 days' Notice to Vacate is given from the last day of Service so housing charges will be at Service rates for 93 days after discharge; the unit and the occupant should inform the LOET of the impending discharge date.
- When discharge is on disciplinarily grounds then only 28 days' Notice to Vacate will be given; the unit and the occupant should inform the LOET of the impending discharge date.
In all cases, should you remain in your SFA once the Notice to Vacate has expired; you will no longer be entitled to pay normal housing charges for your property.
You will be charged a new rate that is based on local council rents, and you will be liable for council tax and water/sewage rates; whilst this is not full ‘market rate’, it may be considerably higher than your current charge.
These figures are individually calculated and issued in plenty of time for you to apply for any necessary benefits. In the case of marriage breakdown, your Council Tax charges will be abated by 25% to allow for single occupancy.
If you require local authority housing when you move out of your SFA, the LOET will issue you a ‘Certificate of Cessation of Right to Occupy Service Quarters’; this is a document issued to show when your entitlement to occupy Service accommodation will end.
The Certificate can be used to demonstrate to a local housing authority that you will become homeless on a given date. The Government issued guidance which encourages local authorities to accept these certificates as 'proof of homelessness' and not insist on a court order for possession before being prepared to provide any homelessness assistance – click the image for more info.
When the time comes for you to move out of the SFA, it must be cleaned to move-out standard in the normal way. You should arrange a pre-move-out inspection through the Carillion Occupancy Services Team on 0800 707 6000 so that your Accommodation Officer can give you all the guidance you require for move-out.
You may also be entitled to financial help with your removals, so contact your Unit Welfare Officer who will be able to advise you.
If you find that you have no-where to live after you leave your SFA then the Cotswold Centre in Wiltshire is a good alternative until you have made more permanent arrangements.
The DIO OPS Accommodation finance team, based in York, deals with collecting rents from Irregular Occupants when they can no longer be deducted from salary. All letters in relation to Irregular Occupancy, with the exception of financial statements, will be issued by the LOET. It is therefore important that you notify them of any changes to your personal circumstances.
Once a ‘Notice’ has been issued, you will be notified of the new charges at least four weeks prior to the Notice expiring. This will enable you, if entitled, to apply early for housing benefits, thereby avoiding any delay in payment.
The letters sent out by the LOET do use legal housing jargon and are set out in a manner required and understood by the courts and local councils. Terms such as: ‘Damages for Trespass’ and ‘Violent Profits’ (in Scotland) can seem intimidating, but they are simply legal phrases used to describe the total charges for the use and occupation of an SFA.
The finance team also has staff dealing with debt recovery, and a lot of time and work is spent attempting to recover unpaid charges such as rent; this can lead to court proceedings.
If you do find yourself in this worrying situation, speak to your Unit Welfare Officer, LOET, Army Welfare Service worker, SSAFA FH or AFF about benefits and future housing provision.
You should also contact the Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO), which has tremendous expertise in dealing with housing needs. Don’t leave it too late - advice is there if you need it.
For more information, contact:
- Joint Services Housing Advice Office: for advice on all aspects of housing - 01252 787574 Mil: 92444 7574, AWS-JSHAO-Mailbox@mod.uk
- SSAFA Forces Help including Stepping Stone Homes (NW London and Tyne and Wear): temporary accommodation for separated Service and ex-Service families, plus support and assistance in finding a permanent home. Call 0207 463 9287 or 0207 463 9217 email: email@example.com
- Services Cotswold Centre (Wiltshire): short-term self-catering accommodation between postings, on retirement or for welfare reasons: 01225 810358
- Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to.
Have you or anyone you know had a local council refuse to take the Certificate of Cessation (issued by the DIO as proof of imminent homelessness) and been told that you have to go to court and be evicted? We know that this is happening but we need proof to change things. Read more
AFF is looking for evidence that this might be happening despite councils being given specific instructions to accept the certificate.
Please contact Cat Calder at firstname.lastname@example.org with the information detailed below:
- Staff number
- Branch of Services
- Have you requested a Certificate?
- Local Authority(s) you have presented certificate to and the reception it received
- Date they requested and date you received certificate
- Date of Last day of service
- Correspondence with LA (only if you are happy to give us this information – it will be passed to the relevant MOD dept. looking into this but will be treated as confidential)
- Are you single or living with Family/Partner/spouse/estranged?
- Contact details
If you have been the subject of emergency evacuation from overseas,are in transit between postings, retiring or you have welfare housing issues; the Services Cotswold Centre at Corsham provides a secure affordable place to stay. Visit the Services Cotswold Centre information on the GOV.UK website.Back to top