Applying for SFA/SSFA

Overview

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

Housing is allocated dependent on your entitlement as close to your duty station as possible within a 10-mile radius. As per policy, you must inform CarillionAmey (CA) within 14 days of receiving a new assignment order (even if your soldier is just moving desk in the same office!).

Contents

01   The welcome return of surplus SFA

Surplus SFA used to be an endangered beast in military housing; however, as a result of rebasing and ongoing changes to the Defence Estate, there is currently a surplus of SFA in certain areas (although the type and size of SFA included may be restricted).

Some of these SFA are being earmarked for inclusion into the private rental scheme (PRS); however, those serving persons who are eligible for SFA, but not entitled, are also able to apply for these SFA.

Eligibility

Currently, in order to be entitled to SFA you need to be married or have sole custody of any children.

AFF is very aware that serving parents who are divorced, but don’t have sole custody of their children, can find it very difficult to source suitable accommodation when the children come to stay.

We hope that accessing these surplus SFA will help many in this particular group to improve their family stability.

Find out more

To apply for a surplus SFA, please contact CarillionAmey on 0800 707 6000 option 3 to check if surplus is available in the required area, and then apply via the e1132 on DII.

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02   Housing retention: an AFF win!

18 months ago, all three Families Federations lobbied for a change to housing retention policy to allow spouses who had started a course or signed a work contract which tied in with a posting order, to retain their SFA if their soldier was short-toured.

AFF was delighted when this change to the policy was made, however, some families told us that, on moving at the end of the retention period, their move was considered to be mid-tour and they weren’t eligible for removals or Disturbance Expense (DE).

AFF in action

AFF raised this issue with the policy makers and is pleased to report that a change has been made for any family granted official retention for a specified period of time for;

  • Child’s education
  • Spouse’s training or education courses
  • Spouse’s requirement to give a contracted period of notice to employers, or
  • Essential medical treatment that cannot be transferred

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 your 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.

Want to know more?

To find out more about this, or any other housing issue, contact AFF’s Housing Specialist Cat Calder at housing@aff.org.uk

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03   Entitlement

Your SFA entitlement depends on various factors, such as your family size your soldier’s rank.

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.

Click here to download the SFA entitlement table.

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04   Applying for Service Family Accommodation (SFA)

All applications for housing within the UK are made using the e1132 Self Preference form via DII or intranet enabled terminals. 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 are available within your entitlement and register three properties in priority order of preference (NB: allocation depends on availability, timings and other factors).

However, the availability of SFA has not increased, and so the e1132 cannot guarantee that you will get your choice of housing – the same supply/demand problems still exist.

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

The Occupancy Services Team will review each application and then make a formal offer. 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’.

What the e1132 can and can’t do

The Self Preference system offers families more information (and transparency) of 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 – your soldier can track progress, sign the Licence to Occupy and book your pre-move -out, move-out and move-in appointments online.

What happens if my soldier is away?

Unit Welfare Offices have access to DII; you can complete the e1132 and view properties there. If your soldier 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.

e1132 Application common mistakes

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 your soldier’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 with previous applications, baby due date of more than nine months

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

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

Paper version of the 1132

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.

To download a paper version of the 1132 please click here.

If you have general comments or concerns, email housing@aff.org.uk.

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05   Service Families Accommodation - Second Offers

In May 2013, a defined timeline for second offers was established; however, the Occupancy 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 Occupancy 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 Occupancy Services Team within 10 working days to say whether you are going to accept or refuse your first offer. If you refuse, the Occupancy Services Team have 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 Occupancy 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 your soldier’s Commanding Officer) within the following time lines:

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

The 14WDs are broken down as follows:

  • 4WDs for your Serving Person (SP) 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 Occupancy 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 Occupancy 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 Occupancy 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 Occupancy Services Team of your intention i.e. either you accept the second offer or you find your own accommodation.
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06   Allocation of SSFA

After submitting your e1132 self-preference form, if there are no SFA available, 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 – 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 your soldier’s assignment date in order to be eligible for removals and Disturbance Expense.

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

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

You cannot source your own SSFA – you will be given two properties to view (preferably in a 24 hour period) and 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.

As with SFA, you will be required to sign a License 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.
For enquiries relating to SSFA, please contact the Substitute Accommodation Team (SAT):

Telephone: 01480 52451 Ext: 8681
Military: 95371 8681
Email: dioopsaccn-hqsubaccom@mod.uk

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07   Retaining SFA or SSFA

In some cases you will be allowed to retain your SFA or SSFA if you are posted; however, unless you meet specific criteria, it’s unlikely that you will be allowed to retain as it may impact on the ability of a family which have been posted into the area to get SFA.

The main reasons for retention of your SFA are:

  • Child’s education
  • 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

If you have children reaching critical examination periods, you may apply for retention for up to four months (one academic term) leading to the final public examination.

Also, where it is not possible for the child to transfer schools whilst within two years of public examinations (because of school availability, regional syllabus differences or Continuous Assessment Work), then retention is possible up to the public examination.

The term public examination only includes GCSE, A / S Level, A Level and/or other nationally recognised, full-time, higher and further education courses up to and including Degree Level.

Your child must live permanently in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and be under 25, unmarried and in full time education; speak to CEAS regarding the “educational impact statement” required by DIO as supporting evidence for retention.

CEAS can be contacted at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk or by calling the helpline on 01980 618244. The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) is an integral part of The Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP), which is the focal point within the Ministry of Defence for all matters relating to Service children and young people.

If your child is undergoing statementing for Additional Needs, then SFA may be retained for two academic terms or until the end of the academic year.

If you have a child not statemented but with special educational needs, then you can still be considered for retention on welfare/medical grounds, providing that consultation between the Local Service Commander and the relevant welfare, medical and educational agencies is undertaken; retention will be for a specific period, after which a further application may be made if required.

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 your soldier 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 time scale 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 HR office to the Occupancy Services Team for the retention of SFA/SSFA. This must be demonstrated with conclusive evidence, including addressing course transferability, supported by Unit HR staff and presented to the Occupancy Services Team. 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 personnel does not allow for sufficient notice to be given to spouses’ employers. A case may be made through Unit HR Office to the Occupancy Services Team for the retention of SFA/SSFA. Such cases are to be considered by the Occupancy Services Team 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
    1. For less than 6 week notice, retention is admissible for up to 3 months
    2. For less than 3 month 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.

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08   How to apply for retention

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

Following a change to JSP 464 in November 2017, Annex A to Chapter 7 now contains a format that should be followed when requesting retention of SFA as an extension of entitlement.

CarillionAmey (CA) Occupancy Services are now requesting 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 the relevant CA mailbox. CA will not accept any future requests without this document.

Click here for the form.

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09   CarillionAmey Occupancy Services Team (allocations)

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

If your enquiry is of a general nature, it will be routed to the first available person at the Occupancy Services Team. If your call is specific to a particular location – such as the need to arrange a move-in or out – you will need to select the relevant area from the options offered.

Please don’t call the team to ask about the local area or schools (visit your local HIVE).

The CarillionAmey Occupancy Services Team can be contacted in the UK through the free-phone telephone number: 0800 707 6000 – option 3, or by email at occupancyservices@carillionamey.co.uk.

They are currently open from 0830am to 3pm Monday to Friday.

If you feel that these reduced timings will impact on your ability to contact the team, for example due to your working hours, tell AFF what hours you would prefer so we can feedback to CarillionAmey.

Contact us at housing@aff.org.uk.

One of the Occupancy Services Teams’ 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
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10   CarillionAmey Guide to occupying SFA

A guide for Service families about applying for, maintaining, moving in and out of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) is available at www.carillionamey.co.uk.

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11   Thinking of making a change to your Service Family Accommodation?

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 changes that add your SFA or change its fabric.

What you can do – As long as permission is sought first, through your allocation officer, you 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 CarillionAmey first.

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12   DIO Customer Charter

Following a review of the Military Chain of Command Charter for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in 2012, and as a result of a question being asked at the last AFF conference, DIO was asked by the Families Federations to provide a similar Customer Charter. This is currently being updated to reflect the new contract.

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