Moving in/Moving out

Overview

At move-in you are responsible for accepting your new home: 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 Housing Officer (HO) follows the procedure as described on the Pinnacle website. It is also very important that any issues raised at the move-in appointment are recorded on the digital form before you sign for your new home so please check that this has been done.

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

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

Contents

01   Move-in appointment

As soon as you have been allocated your new home and have signed the Licence to Occupy (electronically on the e1132) you will be able to book your move-in appointment (also via the e1132).

You will receive a reminder of the appointment.

The Housing Officer will meet you at your new home with all the relevant paperwork including gas and electrical safety certificates, operating instructions for your boiler and cooker and will take meter readings of your fuel supplies.

Your HO will show you around your new home room by room (allow an hour for the appointment), following the agreed move-in process to ensure that you are happy that it meets the move-in standard.

If you notice issues which don’t meet the move-in standard make sure that you raise them with the HO and that they are recorded on the move-in paperwork.

If you notice any issues after the move-in appointment, please log them as a response maintenance job through Pinnacle or the Home Hub.

 

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02   What is a proxy?

When it comes to taking or handing over your home there is often some confusion about who can do it, sometimes resulting in delays to moves in or out.

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

In every case where a proxy is necessary, the serving family member must complete a Proxy Certificate granting the necessary authority and submit this to the Pinnacle Home Services Team.

Please note that the proxy may have to sign for any charges raised at move-out or for the standard at move-in so the choice of who to nominate should be carefully considered.

A proxy may be another Service person or a spouse or partner.

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03   What is the move-in standard?

For details of the move-in standard see the Pinnacle website for more details.

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

See more details on what is considered to be an uninhabitable fault.

If an uninhabitable fault is found at move-in the HO will stay with you while everything is sorted out and if necessary, will arrange alternative accommodation for you (either temporary furnished SFA or hotel or an alternative permanent SFA in the same area).

Where a family has pets, it is understood how important it is to look after them and Pinnacle will endeavour to find a pet-friendly hotel. However, there will be instances where Pinnacle will be unable to find a suitable hotel that is a pet-friendly and in these rare instances, you will need to make alternative arrangement for your pets to be cared for.

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05   14-day report and follow up visit

Before the HO leaves the move-in appointment they will arrange a follow up visit with you for around the 14-day point after move-in. They will visit to see how you are settling in and if you have noticed any issue whilst unpacking and settling in they will help you record these on the 14-day report.  This will also give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have forgotten the answer to from move-in e.g. how the boiler works or where the stop cock is etc.

Remember, if you have any repairs these will still need to be logged with Pinnacle – don’t wait for the 14-day visit to raise them!

Once complete, the 14-day report will be uploaded to your house file and you will be able to add photos as well if necessary (e.g. to show a stain on the carpet). You will be able to upload these yourself via the Home Hub.

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06   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 they are in JSP 464 volume 1 part 1.

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

VIVO/Amey/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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07   SFA utility bills

Families are responsible for utility bills from the date of move-in until the date of move-out, unless the home falls under an MOD fuel supply arrangement. Families should make sure that they take a meter reading at the move-in and move-out appointments.

Families can choose to remain with the existing supplier to their SFA or negotiate their own utility provider for gas and electricity.

It is the family’s responsibility to notify their supplier that they are leaving a property. Families should inform their energy supplier of their final meter reading and supply a forwarding address.

This is even more important as more small energy suppliers enter administration, so that DIO can engage with the replacement supplier, who is appointed by Ofgem, when a family moves out of their SFA.

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08   Pre-move-out appointment

A pre-move-out appointment (PMO) is compulsory and should be carried out about 28 days before you are due to move out. It helps you to see what needs to be done to get the house to move-out standard and it also gives Pinnacle 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 moves in.

A PMO should take about an hour and the HO 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.

You will be able to book your PMO via the e1132 if you are moving to another SFA – if you are moving out of SFA entirely contact Pinnacle Home Services Team directly.

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09   Move-out appointment

The move-out appointment will take approximately 1 hour and the HO will check that your home is at move-out standard. They will have copies of your 14-day report from move-in and any issues raised at PMO so that they can check that they have been rectified. If issues haven’t been rectified they will be recorded on the Repairs Charge Sheet.

The HO will also take meter readings (NB you are responsible for notifying your energy supplier that you are moving out), collect all keys and make a note of your new address.

The HO will leave you with a printed copy of the move-out form and Charge Sheet (if applicable).

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10   What is the move-out standard?

See details of the move-out standard on the Pinnacle website.

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11   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 Repairs Charge Sheet 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 along with associated photos taken by the HO at the move-out appointment, the DIO Service Delivery Accommodation Licence 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 – disputes will only be accepted using this form), clearly stating your reasons for the dispute with supporting evidence.
  • Email the form to: customersolutions@pinnacleservicefamilies.co.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.

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 Pinnacle 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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

This  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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12   Check what you can and can’t be charged for on move-out

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 your home 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 HO 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.
  • Families 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 families 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 the 14-day visit 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 or upload it to the Home Hub.
  • 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 HO 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 Pinnacle is 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 housingsupport@aff.org.uk

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13   Reminder to vacate your home within 14 days

When moving out of your old home and into a new one, families should vacate their old SFA within 14 days.

This is especially important in areas where there is a high demand for SFA as it means the empty SFA can be made available to other families who are moving into the area as soon as possible.

Charges will be made for both the vacated SFA and the new one after the 14-day grace period, unless there are Service reasons this has not happened, which are supported by the local Service Commander.

Families should plan ahead and aim to move out in the 14-day period if possible. However, if you are unable to get a move-out/move-in appointment during the 14-day period, you won’t be charged.

Information on the 14-day grace period can be found in JSP 464, Vol 3 Part 1, para 0208.

Further information on move-ins and move-outs can be found at the Pinnacle website.

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14   Walkaway scheme no longer active

Under the FDIS contract and as of 1 April the Walkaway Scheme will no longer exist.

Families will still need to meet the appropriate move-out standard and DIO will continue to charge damages or deficiencies not classed as fair wear and tear.

If using an external cleaner, AFF strongly suggests that you ensure that they completely understand what the move-out standard is and that they can commit to being able to achieve it. It is unlikely that they will have an opportunity to correct issues at the move-in appointment and you could incur charges as a result. Contact your Housing Officer for more information or you can contact us at housingsupport@aff.org.uk.

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15   How to apply for removals

Removals are booked online. Visit the Agility Logistics GRMS website and follow the instructions.

A recent change to the application process now means that you don’t need to get a ‘wet’ signature from a designated officer; you can now save your application form as a pdf and email it to get an electronic signature. Download GRMS removals application process using ‘electronic signatures’ for the full process.

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. Download the Removals Process flow chart.

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16   Preparing belongings for 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, see Mould, Mildew and Dampness and the Storage of Used Household Effects – Insurance and Legal Liability Considerations.

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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17   Storing your belongings after a fire/flood

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.

Pinnacle will arrange for storage through their own contractor. Call the Home Services Team on 0800 031 8628 (option 2).

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18   Eligibility to final removals

Information on eligibility to final removals can be found at aff.org.uk/advice/finances/military-allowances/#eligibility-to-final-removals

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