Applying for SFA/SSFA


Service Family Accommodation (SFA) is provided by the MOD so that the serving partner can live as close to their duty station as possible and live married accompanied.


01   Changes to Notice to Vacate timelines for surplus SFA

As of February 2023, the notice to vacate (NTV) period for surplus SFA will no longer be a minimum of 28 days but will now mirror the 93 days NTV period seen with entitled SFA.

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02   Pinnacle Home Services Team

The Pinnacle Home Services Team is the primary point of contact for families for housing and the allocation of SFA at your new duty station.

One of the Home Services Team’s main responsibilities is to manage the application process and in particular to:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the application form (e1132 self-preference form) and allocate SFA in accordance with the applicant’s entitlement and availability within 15 working days
  • Identify any additional needs or disability requirements and liaise with appropriate welfare authorities
  • Manage the provision of Non-Availability Certificates (NAC) in cases where SSFA needs to be utilised
  • Maintain JPA records for incoming and outgoing occupants
  • Consider and action requests for retention of SFA
  • Deal with enquiries from prospective occupants on any aspect of the allocation process

The Pinnacle Home Services Team can be contacted through the National Service Centre from 0830 – 1630 Monday to Friday on:

UK – 0800 031 8628 (Option 2)

Overseas – +44(0) 161 605 3517 (Option 2)

For more contact details see

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03   Pinnacle guide to occupying your SFA

All the information you need about applying for, maintaining, moving in and out of SFA is available at

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04   Entitlement

To be entitled to SFA the serving person must be

  • Aged 18 or over
  • Be married, in a civil partnership or have permanent custody of children
  • Have at least six months to serve

Your SFA entitlement depends on various factors, such as your family size (ORs), the serving person’s rank (Officer).

If your entitlement changes as a result of a promotion, or an increase in the size of your family, you can request a move to a larger property and your removals will be paid for.

Download the SFA entitlement table.

Getting married? Whilst there is no entitlement to an SFA before the date of the wedding/civil partnership, where available Pinnacle will try to allow you to take over your new home two weeks in advance so that you can move in your belongings. However, neither of you will be allowed to live there until the date of the marriage/civil partnership.

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05   Getting married

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You can apply for your SFA up to four months before your wedding date.

You need to ensure that you apply as soon as possible to allow time for Pinnacle to make you an offer, for you to accept and then arrange removals and any required furniture.

Yes, any Service personnel who are 18 or over and married or in a civil partnership and have at least six months left to serve are entitled to SFA.

All applications in the UK are made via the online e1132 form on the Defence intranet. This means that the Service person needs to complete the form. If they are away, e.g. on operations, you can ask your Unit Welfare Office to assist you in completing the form or can potentially complete a paper version of the form depending on the circumstances.

For more information on how to apply for SFA, see sections Using the e1132 to apply for SFA and The application process on this page. There is also helpful information on the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) website.

You can take possession of SFA up to two weeks before you are married to allow you to move belongings and kit in. You are not permitted to live in the property until after you are married.

The allocation depends on the number of children you have if your spouse is an Other Rank (i.e. Private, Lance Corporal) and the rank of your spouse if they are an Officer. For further information on entitlement to SFA, see the section Entitlement on this page.

The rent comes directly out of the Service person’s pay.

You are entitled to challenge the grading of your SFA or SSFA within 28 days of move-in. See our Charges & Allowances page for information on rates and charges.

If when you apply for SFA, there is nothing available in the area, you will be given the option to accept a Non Availability Certificate (NAC), which means they will find a hiring for you (private rental). For more information on SSFA, see section Moving to an area where you know there is a shortage of SFA – allocation of SSFA on this page.

A good first point of call is the Unit Welfare Office, who should be able to help or tell you the right person to contact. Pinnacle is the main point of contact for housing and allocation of SFA.

The Army can provide furniture for the house but you pay an increased rental price. This can be booked when you apply for SFA via the e1132 form. You do not have to have Army furniture and can bring your own.

No, you have to provide these yourself. The Army does not provide them, however, cookers will be provided.

You are able to turn down your first offer for personal reasons and will be offered a second property. However, if there is limited SFA available in the area, it may not be possible to offer you a different property at entitlement and you may not like your second offer. You cannot turn down your second offer for personal reasons unless they are exceptional.

See section Service Families Accommodation – second offers (UK only) on this page  for more information about considering refusing your first offer and the implications of this.

March-ins are now referred to as move-ins and is the appointment you have when you take over your SFA. You will be able to look round and check the property is at the acceptable standard for you to move in. It is very important that any issues noted at the move-in appointment are recorded on the move-in paperwork before you sign for the SFA. For more details, see the Moving In / Moving Out page.

Information about the 14-day report is available on the Moving In / Moving Out page.

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06   Dual serving nuances

Where both spouses/civil partners are members of the Armed Forces, either at the same or different duty stations, one spouse/civil partner is designated as the PStat Cat 1s and the other spouse/civil partner is designated as PStat Cat 5s.

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Where the Service couple have duty stations within 100 miles (travelling distance) of each other, the PStat Cat 1s (the licensee) may apply as entitled at the midway point between the two duty stations:

  • When SFA is available at a location midway between the two duty stations;
  • Where the location of the PStat Cat 1s duty station stops the PStat Cat 5s commuting to their place of duty.

If granted, the PStat Cat 1s will occupy the midway SFA until the effective date of their next assignment when a new application will have to be made or the licence is transferred to the partner remaining and taking on the PStat Cat 1s status. If there is no SFA available at the midway location, you are entitled to SSFA. However, if you are offered SSFA, the search area will be restricted to the midway point in the vicinity of SFA, should it have been available.

Please note that there will be no entitlement to SLA but at the discretion of the Local Service Commander you may be given permission to occupy SLA at the assigned location on an eligible basis for Service reasons. Under no circumstances should both parties be allowed to occupy SLA at their duty stations in addition to SFA at the midway point.

Additionally, there will be a maximum distance for travel claims which applies – please see our Military Allowances page for more information.

When applying for SFA at the midway location you must have at least six months left to serve at your respective units.

More information can be found in JSP 464 Volume 1 Part 1.

When partners are based in the same location, but the Service person designated as PStat Cat 1s (the licensee) is assigned away from the duty location before their partner, it is acceptable for the couple to swap their PStat Cats to retain an entitlement in that location.

In some recent cases, where there has been a difference in SFA/SSFA entitlement due to rank, the Service couple have been advised they will need to move properties at the current location.

The accommodation policy team has recently written to state that it supports the continued occupation of the SFA/SSFA in these circumstances (with the exception of tied accommodation) and that there is no expectation that a family must move on the assignment of the licensee, due to a difference in the rank entitlement of a Service couple.

Service couples who want to carry on living in their SFA by swapping their PStat Cats must notify Pinnacle so that the licence can be updated. Personnel occupying SSFA must also notify Mears. The new licensee will be liable for all accommodation charges and should expect to pay for the occupied grade and band for the allocated SFA/SSFA.

If, on notice of the assignment, the current licensee remains PStat Cat 1s, retention of the SFA will only be permissible under the existing retention criteria covered in JSP 464 Vol 1, Part 1.

For dual serving couples who have swapped their PStat Cats to stay in their quarter, on an eventual move to a new duty station, housing entitlement will revert to that of the chosen PStat Cat 1s licence holder.

More information can be found in JSP 464 Volume 1 Part 1.

Service couples may need to employ a nanny/au pair to enable them to fulfil the full range of their military duties, meaning that they are to be allocated SFA which has sufficient bedrooms so that the full-time nanny/au pair has their own bedroom.

For example, if an other ranks family of five (two adults, three children) are in a three-bedroom SFA (Type C) at entitlement, they are able to be apply for a four-bedroom (Type D) SFA to make sure that there are sufficient bedrooms for the children and the nanny/au pair.

However, if an officer family of five (two adults, three children) at Major rank are occupying a four-bedroom SFA (Type IV) at entitlement they will not be able to apply for above entitlement as there are already sufficient bedrooms for the children and the nanny/au pair.

With that in mind, if you already have enough bedrooms for you, your children, and the nanny/au pair to live comfortably then there will not be an option to apply for an above entitlement SFA.

If you need to employ a full-time nanny/au pair, please state the requirement on the SFA application form and attach a written declaration along with any evidence you may have (e.g. job agreement with the nanny). Please note that you will pay the appropriate charge for the type of SFA that you occupy.

More information can be found in JSP 464 Volume 1 Part 1.

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07   Cohabitation rules for those in an Established Long-Term Relationship (LTR(E))

On 1 April 2019, the MOD’s policy on cohabitation in SFA in the UK changed and was updated on 1 February 2020.

If the serving person can demonstrate that they are in an Established Long-Term Relationship (LTR(E)), then they’ll be eligible to apply to cohabit with you in surplus SFA, where it’s available.

Soldiers eligible to cohabit won’t hold entitlement to SFA (unless posted to a FAM pilot site) and so, if there is no surplus SFA at their place of work (i.e. within 50 miles of their posting location), they won’t be able to access SFA or Substitute SFA (a hiring).

Soldiers with PStatCat2 – primary parental responsibility – can also apply in accordance with this policy.

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The MOD defines cohabitation as a soldier living with their partner, who is not their legal spouse or civil partner, in a long-term relationship (LTR).

The MOD has a list of criteria defining an established LTR. You will need to be able to provide enough evidence of your established relationship of 12 months or more. This time frame was set by the Service People Policy Group (SPPG).

Suitable evidence includes at least three of the following items:

  • Proof that your partner acts as a carer for your child/ren during periods of absence from your home that are directly attributable to your service in the Armed Forces (periods of absence defined as exercises, deployments and courses)
  • Proof that you are the legal guardian of your partner’s child/ren, or your partner is a legal guardian of your child/ren
  • Proof that you accept financial responsibility for your partner’s child/ren, or your partner accepts financial responsibility for your children
  • Proof that you and your partner foster a child/ren together
  • Mortgage or tenancy documents showing joint ownership or rental of a property
  • A birth certificate of a natural child showing the names of both partners
  • Proof of adoption of a child showing the names of both partners
  • Proof of joint responsibility for a child
  • Joint bank account
  • Proof of financial support to the other partner, including the transfer of funds home to a partner overseas (i.e. for Foreign & Commonwealth families)
  • Proof that both partners’ names are on the electoral roll at a shared address
  • A council tax bill for the same property in joint names
  • Loan documentation of major assets such as homes, cars or major appliances in both partners’ names
  • Utility bills in both names
  • Life insurance that shows a partner as the beneficiary
  • Two separate utility bills (one in each individual’s name) that evidence the same address
  • Life insurance that shows your partner as the beneficiary
  • The terms of your wills
  • Proof that you have granted Power of Attorney to your partner
  • Service personnel can now use the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) showing their partner as the nominated beneficiary to support an LTR(E) application. An AFPS Benefit Information Statement (BIS) is received annually by all Service personnel (usually after their birthday). If you need to use this to show recent evidence, you can request a second BIS free of charge.

If you’re struggling to provide the evidence needed, then the serving person can register your relationship with their unit admin team, so you can qualify after a 12-month period following that registration. See JSP 464 (see Annex A, B and C of Chapter 1) for more details on how the registration process works.

The serving person can also present their case to chain of command if they don’t yet have the evidence listed.

Children will still need to be registered as part of the serving person’s PStat Cat. Children can be registered at the same time as an LTR when applying. If the children are solely of the non-serving partner and not the serving person, then the serving person will need to prove an established relationship.

No. Cohabitation doesn’t entitle you to any additional allowances other than what the serving person is entitled to according to their PStat Cat. If you are posted to a FAM pilot site speak to your unit admin team about allowances.

Cohabitation is an extension of eligibility, not a widening of entitlement.

If you now wish to cohabit, you’ll need to submit evidence of your LTR(E) to your unit admin team. Once your partner is registered on JPA you’ll then need to inform Pinnacle that you wish to cohabit and register your partner and any children who’ll be living at the property.

The Cohabitation Working Group has reviewed the policy and it was agreed that they should make it easier for soldiers who are joint parents with their partner of shared children to qualify to cohabit.

They made changes to the ‘Guide to acceptable evidence proving a Long-Term Relationship (LTR)’ – which is Annex B to chapter 2 of JSP 464 Vol 1 Pt 1.

Evidence documents – proof of joint children requires Service personnel to provide either:

  • A birth certificate of your child showing the names of both partners;
  • Proof of adoption of your child showing the names of both partners.

If you have one of the above, you no longer need to provide any further evidence. (You do, however, still have to complete a signed declaration as per section 1 of the guide.)

They have also added some new types of evidence which can be supplied as evidence documents, which should be dated or show a start date of more than 365 days ago. These include:

  • Proof that your partner acts as carer for your child/ren during periods of absence from your home that are directly attributable to your Service in the Armed Forces;
  • Proof that you are the legal guardian of your partner’s child/ren, or your partner is a legal guardian of your children;
  • Proof that you accept financial responsibility for your partner’s child/ren, or your partner accepts financial responsibility for your children;
  • Proof that you and your partner foster a child/ren together;
  • Life insurance that shows your partner as the beneficiary;
  • Proof the you have granted power of attorney to your partner.

AFF is delighted that these changes have been made to policy as it means that Service personnel who are joint parents of children with their partner (both natural and adopted) will find it easier to qualify to be eligible to live together in surplus SFA.

AFF would encourage anyone looking to take up the option to cohabit in surplus SFA to look to the future at the same time.

There is no guarantee that there will be surplus SFA available at your next posting so it is a good idea to think about how your family will manage your accommodation needs going forward.

Savings plans for a private rental or a house purchase could help you plan for the future.

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08   Using the e1132 to apply for SFA

All applications for housing within the UK are made using the e1132 self-preference form via the Defence intranet. The e1132 self-preference form is hosted on the Defence intranet, rather than the internet, to ensure security of data and can be found on the Admin tab.

The online form offers applicants advantages over the paper version as it:

  • provides information throughout the form to help you complete it
  • validates the information to ensure you can’t submit an incomplete form
  • allows you to save your form so you can complete it later
  • allows you to track the progress of your application
  • means your information can be directly transferred to systems, which could speed up the process
  • allows you to see which properties may be available within your entitlement and register three properties in priority order of preference (NB: allocation depends on availability, timings and other factors).

Your application must be made via the Defence intranet (available to Defence personnel only). There is a ‘Print Details’ tab for all properties that produces a PDF with all the property details. The serving person can either email this home or print it and take it home.

The Pinnacle Home Services Team will review each application and then make a formal offer within 15 working days. If you are unhappy with the property which you have been allocated, consider carefully whether rejecting it is the right choice for your family. See section below ‘Service Family Accommodation – second offers’.

If you have general comments or concerns, email

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The self-preference system offers families more information (and transparency) on the allocation of their next home. You will be able to view the properties which are available (some applications for additional needs, tied quarters etc. will not see any preferences and will be routed straight to the Occupancy Services Team). The majority will have a photograph and some will have floor plans and internal images. There is an on-going programme to capture the information until all SFA are covered.

The process means that all correspondence will be done electronically – the serving person can track progress, sign the Licence to Occupy and book your pre-move-out, move-out and move-in appointments online.

Remember, policy states that you are to be allocated as close to your duty station as possible so even if the system shows you lots of SFA within the 10-mile radius you will most likely be offered the one closest to camp.

Unit Welfare Offices have access to Defence intranet; you can complete the e1132 and view properties there. If the serving person has access to DII or the defence intranet where they are, then they can still apply; in some circumstances paper applications are still allowed. If you have trouble filling in the e-1132 self-preference form yourself, contact your UWO as they can help you complete it.

Below is a list of the most common mistakes made on e1132 forms which result in them being rejected and delaying your housing allocation. Before you press send make sure that you have double checked all your entries especially the following:

  1. Ensure that all your details are those on JPA, i.e use full names and check that the serving person’s Service number and date of birth are correct
  2. Incorrect duty station – many people put their unit or trade here instead of duty station
  3. Incorrect Pstat – this must be what it will be on occupation, for example, if you are getting married put down Pstat 1
  4. Not entitled – families submit an application as for an entitled applicant instead of as an eligible application for surplus or for a non-entitled transfer
  5. Incorrect family information – for example, incorrect dates of birth, information not matching previous applications, baby due date of more than nine months

Where errors occur, the application will be rejected back to the serving person along with a reason for the rejection.

If you are in any doubt ask your Unit Welfare Office for advice.

‘Welfare’ 1132 accounts have been set up whereby unit staff have authority to submit e1132 on SP’s behalf when they are out of area and truly do not have access to Defence intranet.

The paper version is only to be used in the following situations;

  • Personnel deployed on Ops
  • Defence Attaches and Exchange Officers
  • Personnel overseas, where Defence intranet is not available
  • Special Forces personnel, where Defence intranet is not available
  • Non-admin/management personnel, where Defence intranet is not readily available
  • Recruiting Officers, where Defence intranet is not available.

Illegible or incomplete paper forms will be returned which will result in a delay in allocation of your SFA.

A paper version of the 1132 can be found in JSP 464 volume 1, part 2, chapter 4, annex A.

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09   Furniture

All homes will have cookers, curtains and floor coverings as standard – if you would like a furnished or part-furnished house you will need to complete the form on the e1132 and it will be ready and waiting for you at your move-in appointment. NB: you will be charged for either a part or fully furnished home.

See In my home – Furniture on the Pinnacle website for more information.

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10   The application process

As soon as you receive your new assignment order (AO) you should notify Pinnacle (Garrison or Station housing staff if you are overseas) that you are posted and make an application for a new home at your next duty station.

You will need to apply for your new home via the e1132 as outlined above. From October 2023, you are required to apply a minimum of 2 months prior to the accommodation required date. This will allow sufficient time for the administration of the application.

If the e1132 is submitted with less than 2 months notice, Pinnacle will make every effort to allocate suitable SFA/SSFA, but it can not be guaranteed that this will meet your required-by date. In the event of this happening due to insufficient notice, you may be expected to reside unaccompanied in temporary SLA at your new location at your own expense.

Where a short notice AO prevents you from submitting the e1132 with the required 2 months’ notice, the e1132 must be submitted as soon as you receive your AO, stating the date of the short notice AO as the reason why.

You can put your application in as early as you want, however, Pinnacle has no obligation to provide an address until four months out from the AO start date. You can input a required-by date which can be anytime within four weeks either side of the start date and Pinnacle will try to accommodate these dates where possible, however, there is technically no entitlement until the start date of the new assignment.

Pinnacle has a mandated timeline of 15 working days to respond to your application (if adaptations are required this may take longer). They will review your preferences, consider your required-by date and look at other applications and will allocate you a new home – this will generally be the closest available to your new duty station but where possible they will look to take your requests into account.

Please note that the e1132 is a live system meaning SFA can be added or removed at any time.

You then have 14 days in which to accept or refuse the offer.

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11   Service Families Accommodation - second offers (UK only)

In May 2013, a defined timeline for second offers was established; however, the Pinnacle Home Services Team can only allocate the stock available and so expectations still need to be managed when considering whether to reject your offer or not.

AFF encourages families to ensure that ALL relevant information is included in the comments box on the e1132 so that the Pinnacle Home Services Team can take everything into consideration in the first instance.

If you DO want to turn down the first offer what happens now?

You must reply to the Pinnacle Home Services Team within 10 working days to say whether you are going to accept or refuse your first offer. If you refuse, the Pinnacle Home Services Team has 15 working days to make you another offer – they will try to offer you a different property, however, if the original one offered to you is the only one available and to entitlement that will also be your second offer.

The Pinnacle Home Services Team will also talk to you to see how flexible you are on dates as this may allow more time to source a suitable SFA. If there are no SFA to entitlement for a second offer you will now be offered an NAC for a hiring (SSFA).

Hopefully this second offer will be acceptable, but if you feel that it is still not suitable, and that you have exceptional personal reasons for turning it down, you must complete the Second Offer Review Form which will come with your second offer. Outline your reasons for rejection, include all supporting documentation and return it to the Initial Reviewing Officer (which is usually the serving person’s Commanding Officer) within the following timelines:

  • The form must be submitted, reviewed and concluded within 14 working days (WDs) of the second offer being made.
  • During this time, the Pinnacle Home Services Team will hold your second offer until a final decision is made.

The 14WDs are broken down as follows:

  • 4WDs for the serving person to make an application for a review, with all supporting documentation.
  • 3WDs for the Initial Reviewing Officer to make their review of the application and to determine whether it should be supported or rejected. If the application is rejected by the Initial Reviewing Officer, they will recommend that you accept the offer; the Pinnacle Home Services Team will be notified and no further action taken.

Remember: If you fail to accept the offer, you must understand that the implication is that you are turning down your entitlement to SFA and signalling your intent to make your own accommodation arrangements.

  • You have 7WDs, from the decision date of the Initial Reviewing Officer, to notify the Pinnacle Home Services Team of your intention to accept or refuse the second offer.
  • If the CO supports your application they will then pass it on to the Single Service (sS) Housing Colonel for approval.
  • 5WDs for sS Housing Colonels to review applications supported by the Initial Reviewing Officer to determine if they agree with the initial review assessment, and to make a final decision.
  • If the application is supported by the sS Housing Colonels, a new offer should be made by the Pinnacle Home Services Team (within 15WDs of the decision), including issuing a NAC where SFA to entitlement is not available.
  • Where the sS Housing Colonels reject the application, you have 2WDs from the decision date to notify the Pinnacle Home Services Team of your intention i.e. either you accept the second offer or you find your own accommodation.
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12   Applying for SFA with additional needs (ANDA)

Please see our Additional needs page for detailed information.

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13   Application for accommodation at a FAM pilot site

The application window closed on 31 March 2023. See our FAM page for more information.

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14   Changes to surplus allocations (2021)

The way surplus SFA is allocated is changing after Ministers instructed DIO to reduce the amount of empty properties in the UK over the next few years.

Therefore DIO is encouraging Service personnel to use all the available SFA to reduce the void rate.

Pinnacle Home Services Team is now being encouraged to allocate SFA, where availability allows, to all those who are eligible and who currently have an application in for surplus, with the exception of a few areas where housing is in short supply.

If you are offered surplus, it is unlikely that you will have to move out for an entitled family. However, there is now a minimum of 93 days’ notice to be provided to the occupants of surplus SFA should you be asked to leave. Should an entitled family be posted in and there isn’t an SFA available, they will be offered SSFA, with the exception of the FAM pilot sites where families will be expected to source their own private rental.                                                                            

What do you need to do?

  • If you have an application for surplus SFA in the system and you no longer need it, please go back in to the e1132 and cancel it.
  • If you have an outstanding application for surplus in the system you should have heard recently from Pinnacle Home Services about an allocation – the intention is to convert all surplus applications into allocations (where possible).
  • If you are still keen to take up the option of surplus, but have previously been refused, make a new application – all new applications should now be responded to within 15 working days. However, if there is no SFA available you will not be offered SSFA.
  • Allocations for LTR(E) surplus can be made within a 50-mile radius, so if nothing is available at your duty station you may need to compromise on distance in order to get an SFA. (NB: If you are posted to a FAM pilot site, those in LTR are entitled to SFA)
  • Moves on a surplus licence do not attract removal costs – please ensure that you discuss allowances with your unit admin before accepting a surplus SFA so that you don’t have any surprise costs further down the line.
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15   Moving to an area where you know there is a shortage of SFA – allocation of SSFA

It is very important that you fill in your e1132 self-preference form as soon as you get your assignment order as in many areas there is a shortage of private rental properties due to changes of use of properties for holiday lets and because property owners are selling lettings at a market peak. This is making it harder and taking longer for Mears to source appropriate SSFA in some areas and means it is taking longer.

What’s the process?

After submitting your e1132, if there are no SFA available at duty station you can ask to extend this. If this isn’t possible, you will be given the option to accept a Non Availability Certificate (NAC) which means that an SSFA (hiring) will be sourced for you.

You may be asked whether you want to stay on the list for an SFA. Think very carefully as refusing a NAC will be seen as a refusal of an offer and you will go on to the waiting list and may have to wait some time for another offer.

Remember: you have to move within three months of the serving person’s assignment date in order to be eligible for removals and Disturbance Expense.

The Pinnacle Home Services Team must issue a NAC a minimum of 51 days for moves within the UK and 65 days for moves into the UK from overseas; they can withdraw the NAC and offer an appropriate SFA if one becomes available at any time within these deadlines.

The earliest you can apply to move into an SSFA is two days prior to the serving person’s assignment date, unless you are returning from overseas or vacating a tied SFA.

You cannot source your own SSFA; the process is arranged by Mears, the current contract holder. Where possible you will be given two properties to view (preferably in a 24-hour period) and you must choose one of these. You will then be given notice of an address 14 days prior to your required date if in the UK and 28 days prior if returning from overseas, subject to availability of properties.

AFF appreciates that this is a very anxious time for families but please be assured that behind-the-scenes Mears is working hard to source you an appropriate property within your required timeline. However, it is currently hampered by the lack of availability and the swift turnover of properties on the rental market so please do be as patient as possible. Remember, the more notice you give for your e1132, the more time there will be to source SSFA for you.

As with SFA, you will be required to sign a Licence to Occupy and your SSFA will be charged at grade 1 for rent and CILOCT – you are entitled to challenge the grading within three months of move-in.

What if Mears can’t source you a property before the serving person starts their new job?

Mears may be able to offer you temporary accommodation in the new area, however, AFF has been contacted by some families who have found themselves in small, temporary accommodation for several months.

AFF would recommend that retaining your current SFA is the best option where possible; whilst we appreciate that this may result in some separation it is a much safer temporary option. Currently hotels and holiday lets in the UK are very busy so you may even have to move to another temporary option whilst waiting for a permanent solution.

For enquiries relating to SSFA, please contact the Substitute Accommodation Team (SAT):

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16   Retaining SFA or SSFA

In some cases, where you meet the criteria laid out in policy, you will be allowed to retain your SFA or SSFA for a defined period of time if you are posted.

Retention is not automatically granted so, even if you know you meet the criteria laid down in policy, you MUST apply for it by contacting Pinnacle.

Retention is an extension of your current entitlement so it must be applied for and granted BEFORE you start at your next duty station. Retention CANNOT be granted retrospectively.

Retention is only granted for specific time periods up to a maximum of 12 months, although there is the option to reapply if the circumstances remain unchanged. If you wish to reapply, this must be before the 12 month period ends. It is very unlikely that you will be given retention for a full posting – if you are looking for this option, then you will need to consider surplus.

The main reasons for retention of your SFA are:

  • Child’s education
  • SP short toured while spouse undergoing a course, or has to work employment notice
  • Moves of short duration
  • Unaccompanied tours
  • Short notice postings
  • Non-availability of SFA at new posting

Remember: retention of your SFA may impact on allowances such as Disturbance Expense and removals or CEA. You are advised to consult your unit before applying for retention.

Retention for children’s educational reasons

The MOD recognises that there are specific circumstances regarding the education of Service children under which retention of SFA/SSFA is admissible. Parents are to apply directly to the Pinnacle Home Services Team where they are seeking retention for SFA/SSFA on the grounds of their child’s education for:

Recognised critical stages of education. In cases where a child has commenced/is in the process of completing one of the recognised stages of education detailed below, retention of SFA/SSFA is admissible on the basis that would be detrimental for the child to transfer their studies to another school/college due to regional syllabus differences or particular Continuous Assessment Work. An application for retention must be supported with verification from the relevant education provider. Retention for the specified stage of education will be possible up to the date of the final public examination (but may be subject to successful re-application after 12 months). After this date families will be expected to move to the Service person’s duty station. These applications must be supported by a letter from the education provider (school/college) confirming that the child has commenced/is in the process of (detail start/end dates of course, impact of transferring) completing one of the recognised critical stages of education. The stages of education recognised under this policy are:

  • GCSEs / devolved administration equivalent. An application for retention will need to cover this whole stage of education.
  • A Levels / devolved administration equivalent. Applications for retention will need to be on an annual basis
  • 16 – 18 education. (for example, vocational studies: Technical Levels, Diploma). Applications for retention will need to be on an annual basis.
  • Nationally recognised, full-time, higher and further education courses up to and including 1st Degree level (Only where the child continues to live permanently in the SFA/SSFA is unmarried and under 25.) Applications for retention will need to be on an annual basis.

Note: The Education Advisory Team (EAT) (UK). Where an application for retention on the grounds of a child’s education does not fall clearly within the criteria recognised in this policy, parents may seek advice from EAT (UK). For example, a child with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is likely to be able access support in the new assignment location. This should be transferable between local authorities and does not routinely present a basis for retention. However, there may be specific and particular circumstances for parents who have a child with the highest level of need with bespoke provision (EHCP, CSP (Scotland), IDP (Wales) or Statement (NI)) or in specialist provision), where a holistic and multi-agency view for the whole family is required. This may involve welfare; medical and social care as required and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Should the Service person seek educational input from EAT(UK), they will then be required to submit this as part of their paperwork. In some cases Pinnacle may contact EAT(UK) for clarification. Service personnel should contact EAT(UK) at

For more information see our additional needs page – as this gives an overview.

Retention of SFA for spouses

Thanks to the joint campaigning of the Families’ Federations, you are now able to apply to retain your SFA if the serving person is short-toured and you are doing a course which you can’t transfer to another area of the country OR if you have to give a specified timescale of notice to your employer.

This change aligns policy with the existing provision which supports retention of SFA when you have children in public exam years.

JSP details as follows:

Retention of SFA for spouses on adult educational courses

Where a spouse is undertaking adult educational or training courses aimed specifically at improving their skills for work and/or opening up new employment opportunities which was started in the realistic expectation that it would have been completed in the period of the Service person’s current assignment (i.e. prior to a declared Future Availability Date on the SP’s Assignment Order) but the Service person is instead assigned elsewhere before the end of the course. A case may be made through unit admin team to the Pinnacle Home Services for the retention of SFA/SSFA. This must be demonstrated with conclusive evidence, including addressing course transferability, supported by unit admin team and presented to the Pinnacle Home Services. Such cases are to be considered with the Local Service Commander and the relevant single Service Housing Colonel, as required, and include permitting retention on a temporary surplus basis, offering alternative accommodation in the same area (if available) or in areas where surplus SFA exists. It must not lead to entitled personnel being accommodated in SSFA.

Notice period for spouses’ employers

In situations where a short notice posting of the Service person does not allow for sufficient notice to be given to spouses’ employers. A case may be made through unit admin team to the Pinnacle Home Services for the retention of SFA/SSFA. Such cases are to be considered by the Pinnacle Home Services in consultation with the Local Service Commander and the relevant single Service Housing Colonel, as required. Retention is only to be granted for the minimum period necessary to give and complete the contracted notice period. It must not lead to entitled personnel being accommodated in SSFA.

Other reasons for retention are detailed in JSP 464 but the main reasons include:

  • Moves of short duration – retention is admissible if you know that the move will be followed by another within 11 months.
  • Unaccompanied tours
  • Short notice postings
    For less than 6 weeks’ notice, retention is admissible for up to 3 months
    2. For less than 3 months’ notice, retention is admissible for up to 1 month
  • Non-availability of SFA at the new posting – retention is admissible for 28 days
  • Those on the VCDS 45-minute list are entitled to retain their SFA
  • Those posted to MOD Main Building may apply to retain their SFA

For the full list please consult JSP 464.

In these circumstances, you will now be entitled to both removals and DE on moving at the end of the retention period, so long as the soldier has more than six months left to serve at the new duty station and the authority to retain your SFA was approved prior to their Report for Duty date.

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17   How to apply for retention

If you are planning to apply for retention of your SFA, there is a form that you need to complete.

JSP 464 Annex A to Chapter 7 contains a format that should be followed when requesting retention of SFA as an extension of entitlement.

The Pinnacle Home Services Team will request this for all retention requests, in order to allow for a standardised approach, meaning that all appropriate data is provided from the outset.

This should provide a framework to these requests and reduce some of the delays caused by requests for further information (or rejection) from poorly staffed requests.

It will also aid retention boards, which sit weekly, to have a clear format to follow rather than spending time extracting the required information from requests.

Families who wish to make a request without the engagement of the welfare team will also find this new process useful; however, AFF advises all families applying for retention to make contact with your welfare team, so that they are at least aware of the situation.

The e1132 system should still be utilised, with this document and any supporting ones sent through to Pinnacle (make sure that you state the e1132 application number in the email so that they can be matched up). Pinnacle will not accept any retention requests without this document.

Download a Word version of the form: RMAT for casework in support of retention

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18   Thinking of making a change to your SFA?

Most people want to make the best of their home but when living in SFA you must seek permission in advance if you want to make any material change to your SFA. Contact Pinnacle at or use their live chat.

What you can do

As long as permission is sought first, through your housing officer, are generally permitted to carry out minor encroachments either on the inside or to the outside of your home. This includes erecting a greenhouse, garden shed, TV aerial, satellite dish, house alarm and security lights.

At the pre-move-out appointment these changes will be inspected – where it is considered that the encroachment does not provide added value to the property, you will be required to remove and make good. All costs incurred in the removal will be your responsibility – this also applies if you redecorate your property.

What you can’t do

Major changes will not usually be permitted, such as replacing a kitchen. Even if you know you will be based in a property for some time, these changes would introduce non-standard fixtures and fittings that will not be covered by the maintenance contract. In addition, families should not interfere with fittings, such as gas ovens or gas fires, as this is potentially dangerous and illegal if you are not qualified.

Families living in Substitute SFA (SSFA) are not permitted to alter the decoration of the interior or the exterior of the property without the written permission of either the MOD Contractor or the Letting Agent/Landlord. If in doubt, please check with Pinnacle first.

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19   Request to remain in SFA for Service leavers

Following on from the announcement on 1 April 2019 that Service leavers may (where availability allows) request to remain in their SFA for up to 12 months after their last day of Service, DIO has produced an infographic to show the options and methods of requesting them.

Families who remain in SFA after the last day of Service will no longer be entitled to subsidised Service charges for accommodation and will pay the market rate for the property, either in the form of ‘damage for trespass’ payments or via private rental payments.

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20   Pets, visitors, nannies/au pairs, sheds, firearms and businesses

You may think that this is an odd mix, but any family who wishes to keep pets, employ a nanny or au pair, apply for an encroachment (for example a shed, satellite dish or security light), run a business or keep firearms in their SFA will need to apply for permission through the Pinnacle Home Services Team on 0800 031 8628 Option 2.

If you have been allocated SSFA please be aware that storage of firearms and ammunition will not be permitted. SSFA is provided from the private rental market, and the tenancy agreements do not allow for storage or materials that could be dangerous in any sourced SSFA or outbuilding.

Online forms are available on Pinnacle’s website to make it easier for families to submit in-home applications for pets, long-term visitors, nannies/au pairs, minor encroachments or to run a business.

XL Bully dogs law change

Do you own an XL Bully dog? If so, you need to be aware of the recent changes to the law and how this will affect you if you live in SFA or SSFA.

From 1 February 2024 it is a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless your dog has a certificate of exemption.

More information is available on GOV.UK: Ban on XL Bully dogs

If you live in SFA and own an XL Bully dog, you needed to download, complete and resubmit your pet request form alongside a copy of the certificate of exemption by 31 January 2024. If you are moving SFA in the future you will also need to show your certificate at the same time as requesting permission.

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