Moving in/Moving out

Overview

As a family living in SFA you are responsible for making sure that the property is to move-out standard when you leave.

At move-in you are responsible for accepting the SFA; when you sign the paperwork, you are agreeing that it is at move-in standard.

It is very important that you ensure that the move-in process is done correctly and that the Accommodation Officer (AO) follows the procedure as written in the Amey handbook. Click here for more information. It is also very important that you make sure that any issues raised at the move-in appointment are recorded on the paperwork/tablet before you sign for the SFA so please check!

Contents

01   Amey’s Walk Away Scheme: clarification for familie

Amey has stated that their Walk Away Scheme is an ‘insurance policy’ – you pay not to clean certain items e.g. the cooker, and this means you won’t get charged at move-out, which would be more expensive than the cost of the Scheme.

Monitoring families’ concerns

AFF is aware that there are issues with the preparation of some of these SFA prior to move-in, the responsibility for which falls to the local Accommodation Officer (AO) as it is their job to check and ensure that the house is ready prior to the next family moving in.

In some locations, standards are not meeting families’ expectations and we are monitoring the situation closely and holding CA to account.

If you have issues at move-in, make sure you note ALL repair and cleanliness problems – no matter how small – on your move-in paperwork BEFORE you sign it. CA then has 24 hours to rectify these issues.

Remember that if you have any stains on the carpet, chips on woodwork etc. you must record them on your 14-day report to ensure that you won’t be charged for them on move-out.

Making a complaint

If the move-in process isn’t followed correctly, or if your recorded issues aren’t resolved within 24 hours, ensure you make an official complaint and get a reference number.

You can also contact your local AFF co-ordinator or our Housing Specialist at housing@aff.org.uk for help with these issues.

For more information see ‘Walk Away Scheme’ below.

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02   Check out what you can and can not be charged for at Move-out

Clarification on move-out charges has now been issued; remember you risk being charged for any damage to your SFA on move-out unless you can prove that it was present at move-in. Take a look at our top tips to make sure you are protected.

Painting and decorating

  • Fair wear and tear will be considered at move-out. If a property hasn’t been redecorated at public expense within the last four years, no charges will be made for any wear (damage will still be charged for).
  • The AO must detail the reason for any charge, the cost and when the house/room was last decorated when they send the details to DIO. Make sure this is on the paperwork and contest it if not.

Carpets

  • Condition will be assessed against normal wear and tear appropriate for the age of the carpet; charges should only be raised where clear abuse or damage has occurred.
  • Any charges will be discounted by the age of the carpet as follows: 25% over 2.5 years old, 50% over 5 years and 75% over 7.5 years.
  • No charges will be made for carpet that exceeds an in-use life of 10 years.
  • Occupants should not be charged for cleaning to carpets in lounge and dining rooms where the carpet was cleaned over 3 years past and 5 years past for bedrooms.
  • AFF note – if you have pets you will still be expected to use a suitable pesticide to ensure no fleas are present – make sure that you use one which ensures that all phases of the life cycle are killed as you can be retrospectively charged for a flea infestation up to 6 months after leaving the SFA.

Curtains

  • To be replaced when regarded unserviceable – no longer than eight years.
  • No charge to be made to occupants for cleaning.
  • Only clear damage to curtains will be chargeable. No discount is applicable.

Actions for families

Protect yourself against undue charges at move-out:

  • Keep a copy of your move-in paperwork and 14-day report.
  • Fill in your 14-day report at move-in with any damage in the property you don’t wish to be charged for at move-out. Send it to the address on the form within the time line stated.
  • Take photographs of damage/state of furnishing at move-in. Make sure these are dated online or on the image. Attach these to your 14 day report and keep a copy.
  • Ensure that your address is on every sheet of paperwork at move-out and that both you and the AO sign each sheet. If you disagree with a charge, tick the relevant box and make sure that you both sign the page. Take photos of the area for charge if you disagree with it as evidence for your dispute.
  • Not signing the page for charges doesn’t mean that you won’t be charged for it – you need to sign to show that you have seen and disputed the information CA are going to provide to DIO.
  • Score out any spare lines on the charges part of the form before you sign it.
  • To dispute charges at move-out, follow the process outlined in the letter. If your challenge is unsuccessful, raise a stage 2 complaint in writing to DIO.

Contact AFF

If you’re having issues relating to your move-out, contact AFF at housing@aff.org.uk

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03   Changing energy supplier at move-in/move-out

AFF has been approached by several families who’ve had their energy supplier changed by Amey before their move-out date or once they’ve moved into their new SFA.

This has caused issues with generating final bills on move-out and has also caused families concern and undue work.

Improving the process

AFF spoke to CA who confirmed that they do need to start the process of changing to their void supplier, Scottish Southern Energy (SSE), before the move-out date to ensure that there is enough time to get the changeover on the required date.

However, they have now advised that at the pre-move-out appointment, the Accommodation Officer (AO) will give you this letter explaining the process.

The change of supplier should coincide with your move-out date, but unfortunately, if your move-out date changes last minute the change may still go ahead; SSE are looking at the process to ensure that it works more smoothly for families.

Please remember that you are still responsible for sending in the final meter reading to your supplier at move-out.

At your move-in appointment the supplier for the property will be SSE; the AO will give you this letter about the supplier and details of how to change to another if you wish to.

Share your concerns

If you have any issues about your fuel supplier being changed, or if you’ve received any bills from before you moved into the property, AFF encourages you to put in an official complaint to Amey on 0800 707 6000 option 5 (make sure you get a reference number), and send the details/bills to:

Amey Utilities Management Team,
Swales Pavilion,
RAF Wyton,
Huntingdon,
Cambridgeshire
PE28 2EA
Email: UtilitiesManagement@ameydefenceservices.co.uk

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04   Move in appointment

As soon as you have been allocated your SFA and signed the Licence to Occupy (electronically) you will be able to book your move-in appointment.

Email occupancyservices@ameydefenceservices.co.uk or call the helpdesk on 0800 707 6000 Option3.

You can request confirmation of the appointment by text, email or letter and can also ask to be sent text reminders if required.

Your AO will meet you at your SFA with your house file, occupancy form, 14 day observation report form and fuel subsidy scheme details (if required).

They will also leave you with copies of the gas and electrical safety inspection, a leaflet on controlling mould and condensation, the operating instructions for your boiler, hot water and cooker and meter readings for gas and electricity.

Your AO will show you around your new home, room by room, following the agreed move-in process; for more details, click here.

Make sure that your AO follows this process to the letter so that you can be assured that, when you sign the Occupancy Form, everything is in working order and, if it isn’t, it has been recorded and will be rectified within 24 hrs.

If you miss anything you will have to record it as a normal response repair which will take about 15 days.

Whilst going around the SFA you will need to fill in the tick-list to ensure that the SFA is at move-in standard; for full details, click here.

This is a long list, but ensures that you take the time to check everything so that you can be sure that you are moving in to a fully functioning house.

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05   What is a proxy?

When it comes to taking or handing over an SFA there is often some confusion about who can do it, sometimes resulting in postponed move-in/move-outs.

In every case where a proxy is necessary, the Service occupant must complete a Proxy Certificate granting the necessary authority.

Families sometimes assume that the spouse or civil partner may routinely handover/takeover an SFA or SSFA; unfortunately, this is not the case.

A Notification of Proxy must always be submitted to the Amey Occupancy Services Team if the Service occupant is unable to be present themselves.

If your soldier is unable to handover/takeover your SFA themselves and needs to appoint a ‘proxy’.

1. The soldier to whom the SFA is allocated should, wherever possible, attend the takeover/handover of the property. This is by far the best way and makes the whole process run more smoothly.

2. If, for Service reasons, your soldier cannot attend move-in/move-out, they should appoint a ‘proxy’ i.e. someone who has authority to takeover/handover the property in their place.

The proxy may have to sign for charges raised at move-out, or for the standard of the SFA at move-in, so the choice of who to nominate as a proxy should be carefully considered.

The proxy will be acting with the full authority of the Service occupant and any subsequent disputes will be difficult to resolve if the occupant disagrees with anything the proxy has signed for; in short, the proxy’s decision should be considered final.

3. A proxy may be either another Serving person, or the occupant’s spouse or civil partner.

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06   What is an uninhabitable fault at move-in and what happens?

Any faults noted at the move-in appointment, which don’t prevent you from moving in, will be recorded on the Occupancy Form; CA have 24 hours to get these rectified (even over a weekend).

A fault which makes the SFA uninhabitable is one or more of the following on this downloadable list.

If an uninhabitable fault is found at move-in, the AO will stay with you until everything is sorted out and will arrange alternative accommodation for you – either temporary furnished SFA, a hotel or alternative permanent SFA in the same location.

If necessary, your removals will be put into storage (organised by Amey) and they can also arrange for pets to be accommodated if hotels do not allow pets.

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07   14 day report

Your AO will leave this with you – it is not for reporting repairs but more for noting down anything which you missed at move-in that you don’t want to be charged for at move out e.g. stains on carpets, chips on tiles or skirting boards or damage to kitchen units etc.

Make sure that you complete and return this in time, and keep a copy for your records for when you move-out.

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08   Insurance Liability - are you covered?

If you occupy SFA or SSFA, you will have signed an agreement when you moved into the property called a Service Licence to Occupy Service Family Accommodation – known as a Licence to Occupy. Due to this, you are not classed as a tenant – as you would be in a civilian rental property.

Within the Licence to Occupy, there is a clause that states that you are liable for damage up to at least the sum advised currently by the MOD, which, from 1 August 2011, was set at £20,000.

Because you occupy the property under this agreement, standard home insurance policies do not cover your liability. Similarly, buildings insurance is not appropriate either.

Families’ experiences 

At AFF, we have seen a number of families who have suffered extreme stress and financial hardship following major damage to their SFA from incidents such as fires or major flood damage.

If you are found to be liable for the damage, and have no insurance, the MOD will still charge you for the repairs and you will have to find the funds from your own pocket.

AFF strongly advises you to take out insurance to cover for such an eventuality. You may well feel that this is yet another expense you can do without, but if you damage your home, you could find yourself facing a bill of anything up to £20,000.

For those who like to see the regulations in black and white, ask your Unit Admin Office for a copy of the amended JSP 464 (tri-Service Accommodation Regulations), Chapter 7.

Liability insurance is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended – it does not replace contents insurance which all families are advised to have.

Amey and DIO are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your housing (such as lagging pipes) and you will only be liable for charges if they can prove negligence on your part. A burst pipe as a result of you turning off the heating during a cold spell would be your fault, but if it was as a result of insufficient insulation of the pipes and you had done everything you were meant to in order to prevent frozen pipes, then you would not be liable.

Ring your insurance company and ask if you are already covered for liability insurance; if you aren’t, ask to have it added onto your kit and contents insurance.

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09   Storing your belongings after a flood/fire

If you are unfortunate enough to have a flood, fire or similar incident while living in SFA, please don’t call Agility if your belongings have to be temporarily put into storage or re-housed.

CA will arrange for storage through their own contractor. Call the Occupancy Service Team on 0800 707 6000 (option 3).

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10   Pre-move-out appointment

A pre-move-out appointment (PMO) is compulsory -it helps you to see what needs to be done to get the house to move-out standard, but it also gives CA the opportunity to see if any large works (painting, new carpets etc.) need to be done so that they can schedule them before the next family move-in.

A PMO should take about 45 minutes and the AO will walk around the house with you and will leave you with a list of issues you need to rectify and a list of what you will be charged at move out if they aren’t done. For more info on the PMO process click here.

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11   What is the move out standard?

For a comprehensive guide, click here.

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12   Walk away scheme

This is NOT a cleaning scheme, but is an optional indemnity scheme that allows you to pay to ‘walk away’ from your SFA without worrying that it will fail due to cleanliness issues on move-out.

The schedule of rates is cheaper than you would be charged if you moved out without cleaning at all and, as it is set rates, it is more transparent than previous schemes. However, we are aware that it is not necessarily cheaper than a professional clean by a local company, so make sure you explore all the options and decide what works best for you.

The scheme now also includes garden preparation but there is an additional charge for this service – conditions apply.

The areas included in a basic charge, and which you will therefore not be charged for on move-out to due to lack of cleanliness, are:

  • General overall cleanliness
  • Vinyl flooring
  • Internal joinery
  • Window frames
  • Glass
  • Light fittings
  • Extractor fans
  • Radiators
  • Garages and outbuildings
  • All necessary refuse and recycling bins.

Be aware that if there is any physical damage, which has not been previously reported on your 14-day report, or called in as a job during your time in the SFA, you will be charged for this.

For full details of the scheme, click here

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13   Charges on move out

All charges for damages and deficiencies on SFA and SSFA in the UK are recovered from your soldier’s pay – this is to reduce the time and costs involved with chasing those who don’t currently pay on time (or at all).

See the GOV.UK website for more information.

So, how does it work?

  • At move-out you will be informed of any charges being made and this will be recorded on a Statement of Charges form (Alloc 015) for SFA, or the Occupant End Certificate for SSFA.
  • If you don’t agree with the charges raised you must either (in SFA) write Charge Disputed next to your signature or (in SSFA) tick the box which indicates you intend to dispute the charges.
  • If you don’t sign the form, or if a proxy signs, you will still be charged!
  • On receipt of the relevant forms, the DIO Service Delivery Accommodation License Team will send notification to your soldier to tell them that the charge will be taken direct from their pay.
  • If you wish to lodge a dispute, you have 14 days from receipt of notification to do so.
  • If no dispute is raised, the charge will be taken. A payment plan will be automatically calculated by JPA if the charges exceed a set amount of pay.

What happens if you dispute the charges?

If you don’t think that you are responsible for the damage, or that the damage is fair wear and tear, you can dispute the Statement of Charges raised.

  • To lodge a dispute, use the appropriate form available on the DIO Service Delivery Accommodation intranet (MOD systems only) and SFA website (disputes will only be accepted using this form), clearly stating your reasons for the dispute with supporting evidence.
  • Email the form to: DIOOpsAccn-DisputedCharges@mod.uk
  • Your written statement will be considered by the Housing Manager for the area for SFA and for SSFA will be reviewed by the Substitute Accommodation Team (SAT). You will be informed of their decision.
  • Remember that you only have 14 days from receipt of the official letter to lodge your dispute.
  • Local DIO offices will not accept any disputes if approached directly.

Charges for SFA/SSFA damages and deficiencies: advice from MOD/DIO:

1. How can I avoid charges being raised? 

Prepare your property to the required standard as outlined in the pre-move-out advisory visit, or on the SFA website.

This includes:

  • repairing minor damage such as excessive picture hooks
  • removing all possessions/rubbish
  • cleaning the property and fixtures/fittings (such as the cooker)
  • ensuring the garden is left in a maintained and tidy state.

For SSFA, during your occupancy you should raise any issues immediately with the MOD contractor to ensure remedial action, if appropriate, is completed.

2. My proxy signed the Statement of Charges document and I disagree with them, what happens in these circumstances?

Proxies should be trusted and carefully chosen as they are acting on your behalf in all aspects of the move-out appointment. If you wish to dispute the charges you can follow the process outlined above. However, you would be required to provide evidence and explain why you think the charges are not appropriate and this could be more difficult if your proxy accepted the charges and you were not present when the property was inspected.

3. Will charges be taken from my pay all at once? 

This depends on the extent of the charges raised and other deductions made against your pay. However, any charges taken from pay will follow MOD guidelines on the total amount that can be deducted from pay in any one month.

Therefore, these charges will be treated like any other debt you owe to the MOD. If you have any specific concerns please speak to your local pay clerk or admin office.

4. Isn’t this just a revenue raising exercise? 

No. This process is being introduced to ensure that charges raised are recovered more effectively.

All Service personnel and their families are required, as part of their Licence to Occupy, to look after the Service home provided to them.

Every instance of damage, or failure to prepare a property to the correct standard of cleanliness, means that the MOD incurs costs to prepare the property to a suitable standard for the next Service family; charges merely recover what the MOD is charged for putting these failures right.

5. Why is the MOD taking this course of action? 

This new process is designed to be more efficient in recovering costs incurred by the MOD. Furthermore, a proportion of Service personnel continue to fail to pay charges for damages and deficiencies raised against them; this increases admin costs and has meant that a large amount of money continues to be outstanding from serving personnel.

It is only fair that families who cause damage or fail to prepare their property to the correct standard bear the cost of their actions or inactions.

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14   How to apply for removals

Removals are booked online on the internet. Click here to visit the Agility Logistics GRSM website and follow the instructions.

Be aware that, although the initial application is electronic, you will be required to print off a report which must then be signed by the Unit Designated Officer (UDO) and either faxed, or scanned and e-mailed to Agility Logistics.

The Global Removal Management Service (GRMS) has raised concerns that some Service personnel are leaving it too late to apply for their removals because they are not in receipt of their new SFA address – despite this not being an initial requirement to apply.

It is vital that you apply for removals as soon as your soldier has their Assignment Order. The contractor can be informed of the new address at a later date. Click here to download the Removals Process flow chart.

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15   Putting belongings into storage

If you are being posted overseas, you are probably going to put your belongings into storage; but before you do so, make sure that you are aware of some issues that may arise and how you can do your best to reduce them.

Whilst you need insurance for storage to protect you from flood, fire, theft etc. it won’t cover damp or mould. For a full explanation, click here.

So, what can you do to try to minimise the possibility?

  • Ensure all belongings are totally clean and dry before packing them for storage (no food crumbs under sofa covers, and ensure all washing and bedding has been thoroughly dried after use and/or ironing).
  • Ensure all white goods are totally dry – for some this may not be possible, so you may want to think about selling them before you go and putting the money aside to help you purchase new ones when you return to the UK.
  • Don’t put anything of monetary or sentimental value into storage – ask family if they will look after photo albums etc. for you while you are away.
  • Invest in vacuum pack storage bags for your clothes and bedding to help prevent the spread of mould spores.
  • You may want to consider washing all fabrics in EC3 Laundry Additive, which claims to remove mould spores left behind by other detergents (dry everything very well!).
  • Remove batteries out of toys and electrical items.
  • Don’t put papers or documents into storage – again, see if family can look after them for you.
  • Consider packing desiccants among your belongings (like the ones you get in new shoe boxes).
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16   Eligibility to final removals

There is a little known regulation that covers ‘Final Tour of Duty’ requests.

Ordinarily, first and final house moves in the military are not paid for at public expense; however, 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.

If your soldier is due to complete their Service and receive an immediate pension (e.g. completed 22 yrs. or for Officers, 16yrs reckonable service), and has completed a JPA Form F024 and submitted it to their Career Manager, they may be eligible.

Critically, if Career Managers are unable to meet the needs of the Service Person (i.e. by posting them within 50 miles or 90 minutes travel time of the requested area) then they may be entitled to DE and RPE for their final move.

The main eligibility criteria are:

  • The preferred location must be within the UK, and must be a Unit or Establishment in which an assignment exists that the claimant could fill if it were vacant.
  • Your soldier is serving at a duty station more than 50 miles from a location for which they expressed a first preference.
  • The Service Person is accompanied and resides in SFA or an alternative Residence at Work (RWA) address.
  • Or, if single, they are a homeowner or householder.
  • JPA Form F024 must be submitted during your soldier’s penultimate assignment. For final postings more than four years in duration, the form must be submitted and approved no later than two years before the end of Service.

Further information on Final Tour of Duty eligibility can be found in JSP 752 Chapter 7 Section 4, or contact your Admin Office for more details.

Given the high cost of removals these days, filling in one little form may well save you a great deal of money in the future – it’s worth a look.

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