Rental Partnership Program (RPP)

The pros and cons of living in on-base military housing or off-base come down to the individual needs of each servicemember and military family.

Written by: Pat McManamon

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The U.S. military has joined with landlords to help service members find more affordable off-base housing.

The help comes through the Rental Partnership Program, or RPP, which provides service members and their families appropriate housing at reduced rates.

The RPP is an agreement between the military’s Housing Service Center (HSC) and landlords near military bases. RPP allows a housing discount, which helps service members decide if they can afford to live on or off base. In addition, the security deposit is waived, as are credit-check fees. Neither a poor credit check nor a poor credit history will disqualify a member from an RPP lease.

Housing units that offer space through the RPP are evaluated and inspected to ensure they meet housing standards set by the HSC. Inspections cover basic health and safety issues. Individual homes are inspected; if the property is an apartment, a typical apartment is checked along with common areas.

Service members not placed in government housing are eligible for a basic allowance for housing. This allowance can be used when living off base and used to pay for RPP housing.

“The main advantages of the Rental Partnership Program are the reduced rent and access to on-base amenities,” said Rob Donnelly, chief financial officer of Marketplace Fairness. “The program also helps service members connect with the military community, which can be valuable for those who
are new to the area.”

The RPP is available to service members whether they are single or have families. While single members of the military typically start their service by living on base, about two-thirds of military families live off base.

Living off base helps wives and children feel part of a larger community. In high-priced rental areas, though, living off base can be a challenge. The RPP is a step toward addressing that.

Who Is Eligible for the RPP?

Almost all service members can take advantage of the RPP program, with a couple minor restrictions based on time left to serve. Single service members do have to jump through one hoop.

Service members with at least six months to one year left on their End of Active Obligated Service (EAOS) and Projected Rotation Date (PRD) qualify for RPP. The difference in months depends on the normal lease terms in the area.

Single service members with rank E-4 and below with less than four years of active duty service remaining need the approval of their command to live off base. This is not typically difficult to obtain.

Rental Partnership Program Tenant Benefits

The RPP offers several benefits to the service member renting off base. While it may not drastically lower the price, it does make a difference – and every little bit helps. One of the biggest benefits is a lease cannot be denied you because of a poor credit report. Among the benefits:

  • Homes are inspected and pre-approved by the HSC, which qualifies them as affordable and suitable.
  • Rental rates are discounted by at least 5%.
  • Security deposit is waived or reduced, as are utility deposits.
  • There is no administrative fee, and an application fee cannot be more than $50. The only fees you can be charged are for pets or cleaning.
  • Rent can be paid by automatic payment through a bank account, or by allotment, an automatic deduction from military pay. Paying by allotment is appealing to the landlord because it comes through the Housing Service Office (HSO), which reduces the risk of a late payment.
  • There are no income requirements as long as the member is receiving the Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) appropriate to his or her rank.
  • The credit check will not disqualify an applicant; the program specifically states that only a poor reference from a previous landlord is disqualifying.
  • Rent is a fixed figure established by the RPP program and does not change based on a member’s rank.
  • Companies participating in RPP cannot refuse to rent based on rank. All members in the program quality.

Military Member Agreements Under the RPP

The service member must treat the rental agreement responsibly. All requirements about timely payments and taking care of the property apply. Agreements in the program mean the servicemember must …

  • Sign a 6-12 month lease, which cannot be broken.
  • Start a payment allotment for rent on a monthly basis.
  • Provide the landlord or management company his or her forwarding address upon Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or a move into government quarters.
  • Conduct themselves responsibly and in a way that reflects well on the U.S. military.
  • Adhere to the landlord’s pet policy if a pet is involved.

Limitations of the Rental Partnership Program

The military expects service members to act responsibly. Thus it will not encourage or allow a member to break a lease to participate in RPP – unless the landlord provides written approval.

IF that written approval is received, or when a lease ends, the member can enter RPP. New rental rates would be the negotiated and agreed-on BAH rate.

If the member stays with the same landlord, the management company must refund the security deposit within 30 days of signing a new lease.

If an RPP lease expires, the member may extend their participation in the program by signing a new lease. The rent may increase, though, provided the management company gives proper notice. The landlord or Housing Service Office (HSO) will assist in extending program participation.

If there is a dispute between the member and the landlord while in RPP, the HSO can mediate. The government will not act as a collection agent, but will make clear to members that nonpayment is not acceptable and he or she must accept the consequences.

If mediation does not come to an acceptable conclusion, the landlord can take complaints to civil court; if the member loses, the landlord then can apply for an involuntary allotment from the member’s pay.

Bottom line: Act responsibly and make sure payment is full and timely.

How to Enroll in the Rental Partnership Program

The process is easy. To enroll …

  • Servicemember selects a property from the list of participating RPP properties.
  • Member submits documents to the property manager.
  • The property manager emails the application packet to the HSO, which schedules an appointment with the member for an enrollment briefing done over the phone.
  • When all steps are complete, including counseling about program requirements, members receive an eligibility certificate.
  • That certificate is emailed to the property manager.
  • The member signs the lease.
  • The member receives an email with step-by-step guidance on completing the setup of their allotment.
  • The member should be careful to document the condition of the property on move-in, which often can help avoid disputes about the property when moving out. If there are issues at move-in, an RPP representative will inspect the property at the request of the landlord or tenant. The HSO will keep a copy of the Move-In Condition Report to ensure fairness on move-out.

Using RPP to find off-base housing is only minimally more complicated than simply finding an apartment on your own.

With the benefits of a reduced rent and no security deposit, RPP is a helpful way for some to find appropriate, qualified housing.

About The Author

Pat McManamon

Pat McManamon has been a journalist for more than 25 years. His experience has mainly been in sports, but the world of athletics requires knowledge of business and economics. He also can balance a checkbook and keep track of investments with Quicken quite adeptly. McManamon’s experience includes covering the NFL for ESPN, LeBron James for the Akron Beacon Journal and AOL Fanhouse, and the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes for the Palm Beach Post.


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