Accommodation in the USA

All your housing and furniture support will be provided by the British Embassy Estates Team (BEET). The BEET are committed to providing high quality accommodation, in safe and appropriate locations, that meets family and educational needs while providing value for money. You can contact the team using the buttons at the bottom of this page, select the correct team based on your posting location. 

Please read the BDSUS Accommodation Policy for full details of what to expect. 

Instructions for Overseeing Furniture Deliveries during Coronavirus Pandemic.

1. Inform BEET via email the day before a furniture delivery/collection if anyone at the property is exhibiting COVID 19 symptoms.

2. Open all relevant internal doors in the house in advance of the contractor arriving.

3. For deliveries/collections of complete furniture packs it is recommended that you allocate one bathroom for use by the contractor and inform them of its location on arrival.

4. Limit the number of people in the house during a delivery/collection – where possible the principle visa holder or one adult should be the only person from your family present.

5. Wear masks and gloves while contractors are present in the property.

6. On arrival check to make sure that the contractors are wearing gloves and masks, if not request that they do so.

7. Inform the contractor that no one in the house is exhibiting COVID19 symptoms and ask them to confirm that that is the case for all the contractor’s employees present.

8. During the installation or collection of furniture stay at least 6 feet away from the contractors or in a separate room if this is possible.

9. When the contractor leaves wipe down all surfaces as required.

10. For furniture deliveries after the contractor has left disinfect all wooden furniture items by wiping down each piece of furniture.

Instructions for Property Viewings on Arrival during Coronavirus Pandemic

1. Consider carrying out property viewings via video link such as Facetime or WhatsApp.

2. If you are conducting an in person viewing restrict the number of people viewing the property with you to one other adult.

3. Wear a mask whilst inside the property.

4. Agree in advance that the realtor showing you the property will be wearing a mask.

5. Inform the realtor on arrival that you are not exhibiting any COVID 19 symptoms and ask them to do the same.

6. During the visit stay at least 6 feet away from the realtor.

7. Use hand sanitiser on departure from the property.

UKBC entitlements are based on family size under the One HMG policy, not on military rank. We do not mandate a maximum size of property (sq ft) but expect properties to be a reasonable size and if they are considered excessive they may not be authorised. You can source a property up to one bedroom above entitlement, but we do not provide any additional furniture for larger properties or additional rooms above entitlement. Rent ceilings are based on property sizes with regards to the number of bedrooms. 

Please refer to Sections 4 – 8 of the Accommodation Policy for details on housing entitlement and the separate Rental Ceilings document for the latest rental ceiling for your location. 

Personnel posted to these two areas will have a property sourced for them by the BEET. You will be asked to complete an Initial Housing Proforma (for a Norfolk version of the Proforma, click here) providing details of any personal requirements. 

You will work with an assigned BEET Desk Officer who will select and view 3 – 5 properties based on the information provided in the Initial Housing Proforma. After each viewing you will be provided with an honest assessment of the house and additional photographs, if you are available at the time of the viewing it may also be possible to conduct a video tour of the property via WhatsApp. You may be required to make a decision to proceed with an application very quickly depending on the time of year and the prevailing market. Regretfully, it is not possible for your desk officer to look at more than 5 properties.

Once a property has been agreed upon with you and a lease signed, the property will be furnished and made ready for your arrival. You can expect to move in on the day after your arrival in country.

The rent will be paid directly to the landlord and the utilities will be set up in the name of MOD. Utility bills will be addressed to the property, and will need to be paid by you. Once paid, you will be able to claim back the expense using the online claims system.

Please refer to Section 9a and 17 of the Accommodation Policy for details on BEET sourcing. You do still have the option to self-source in these areas, read the following section for more information. 

Personnel sourcing their own accommodation have 14 nights from arrival at their duty station to source and move into a property. 

Once a property has been found you’ll need to send a Property Review Questionnaire to the BEET for the property to be approved prior to the lease being signed. We also require a link to the online property listing to enable us to review the property details.  

Private leases must cover the duration of your tour and include the UK Military Clause to ensure that the lease can be broken in the event of you being short toured. You may not sign a lease or exchange money with a leasing company or landlord until authority to proceed has been given and you have officially arrived in country.

Personnel signing a private lease are also able to take an advance of pay to cover their security deposit, if required.  

Utility accounts are set up by you in the name of the principle visa holder. Utility bills are first paid and then the cost reclaimed using the online claims system.

Please refer to section 10 -14 of the Accommodation Policy for additional information on self-sourcing and private leases. 

Personnel are permitted to “top up” their monthly rent with a personal contribution on top of the rental ceiling. Personnel wishing to do this must self-source their accommodation and sign a private lease. Before deciding to top-up personnel should consider the increased cost of living in the US, which is often higher than anticipated, and the fact that spouses do not always find suitable employment. If personnel find themselves unable to pay the top-up the MOD will not cover the difference or fund a move and personnel may be required to return to the UK if they cannot keep up their rental payment.

You will also have to cover the additional portion of your security deposit (a multiple of the monthly rent up to a maximum of 3 depending on location) if this exceeds your rent ceiling.

The BEET will provide personnel with a standard furniture pack linked to accommodation entitlement as detailed below. The exact items provided may differ depending on area, but properties will be furnished to a reasonable standard. Where personnel are able to source a furnished property, they must advise the BEET as soon as possible in order to avoid unnecessary logistics costs. Due to warehousing costs, there is no entitlement to switch or decline any furniture items in the US. Where personnel do not wish to receive a furniture item the BEET will endeavour to assist, but this cannot be guaranteed

Personnel that are approved to go above entitlement should be aware that they will only receive a furniture pack in accordance to their original entitlement and will be responsible for furnishing other areas.

Personnel should also be aware that properties are furnished in accordance with typical UK SFA standards which can create the perception of unfurnished space in many US properties with a larger square footage.

 

1 BR Apt.

2 Bed

3 Bed

4 Bed

4 Bed plus Study

Sofa

1

1

2

2

2

Loveseat

1

0

1

1

1

Easy Chair

0

2

2

2

2

Coffee Table

1

1

2

2

2

End Table

2

2

4

4

4

Bookcase

1

1

2

2

2

Desk

1

1

1

1

1

Desk Chair

1

1

1

1

1

Desk Lamp

1

1

1

1

1

Dining Table

1

1

1

1

1

Side Chair

4

6

6

8

8

Bed Set (Queen)

1

1

1

1

1

Head Board (Queen)

1

1

1

1

1

Bed Set (Twin)

0

2

3

4

4

Head Board (Twin)

0

2

3

4

4

Side Board

0

0

1

1

1

Night Stand

2

3

4

5

5

Dresser or Chest of Drawers

1

2

3

4

4

Mirror

1

1

1

1

1

Lamps*

4

6

7

8

8

*Lamps are not provided in all locations. The Accommodation Supplement Grant is increased in these locations to cover the additional cost.

Some properties in the US, including some base-housing, may not include white goods. Personnel should endeavour to negotiate a white goods package as part of their lease. When this is not possible, the BEET may authorise either self-purchase or delivery of these items. Small gardening equipment should be covered by the Transfer Grant. If you require larger equipment (e.g a lawn mower) due to garden size you may request this if it is not supplied in your furniture pack.

  1. If you are sourcing your own accommodation and have received authority to sign a lease please contact the BEET with:
    a. Preferred delivery date – this should tie in, as closely as possible, with the lease-start date. Please note that your first choice of delivery date may not be available and that from 1st June to 31st August it may take longer than 5 days to schedule a delivery. Deliveries are scheduled to arrive between 8am and 10am, please request your delivery for the first day that you know you will have access to the property from 8am.
    b. Delivery address.
    c. Contact telephone number for the day – the moving company will usually call that morning to ensure someone is at the property. Please make sure that the voicemail box has been set up to take messages. A USA phone number is preferable as the delivery crews will often be using personal phones and, for this reason, will not call UK numbers.

  2. If you are moving into a MOD owned or leased property where it has not been possible to arrange the delivery of furniture prior to your arrival it may be necessary for you to take delivery of the items: 
    a. You will be notified in advance that you will be required to take delivery of furniture items on arrival and will be provided with details of the items and the delivery time.
    b. Unless informed otherwise your delivery will be scheduled to arrive between 8am and 10am, please make sure that you are at the property and that you have provided the BEET with a contact telephone number that you can be reached on.

  3. On delivery check each item off against the inventory you will be provided with.
    a. Report any damage done by the moving company (either to furniture or the property) at the time it happens to the BEET and note the damage on the forms the delivery men will ask you to sign.
    b. Do not return any item on the truck unless approval has been given by the BEET – this will likely only be given if the item(s) will not physically fit the property; or you are asking to return a large appliance (washer/dryer/fridge) that is already provided by your landlord. 
    c. Please check all drawers of items being returned to storage– appliance manuals, castors from furniture etc could have been packed inside. Once returned it will not be possible to arrange for items to be re-delivered if you change your mind due to the costs involved.

  4. Make any notes to the inventory provided as necessary indicating any areas of  existing damage.
    a. Sign & date the last page of the inventory and return it to the BEET.
    b. If you feel any item(s) should be replaced, or you need additional furniture to bring the pack to entitlement, please email the BEET with your requests.

Base housing is available at approximately 95% of the military establishments to which UK personnel are assigned. It is a good option for many personnel as the properties are well maintained, in secure areas and offer excellent facilities such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, and the staffed community centres pride themselves on fostering community spirit. Base housing can allocate an address up to 6 weeks prior to personnel arriving in the US and all sites/establishments have a comprehensive website detailing locations, property types, floor plans and photographs.

Two bedroom houses are very hard to find in many areas therefore SP/UKBC with a Type B entitlement are likely to be housed in an apartment. The Accommodation Policy explains all the country specific differences.

Personnel will in the majority of cases be charged inline with the CAAS furnished banding policy. In addition married accompanied will also pay Fuel and Light (F&L) with CILOCT being removed for overseas assignments.  Unaccompanied /single personnel will not pay F&L. No part furnished rates apply. (No charges apply if on the COLA package). Research your individual circumstance and the associated costs. Regulations state that single and unaccompanied personnel are only entitled to a 1 bedroom apartment. In areas where it is manageable personnel below the rank of Major/Lt Cdr/Sqn Ldr will be required to share if circumstances dictate. The terms and conditions of service for UKBC’s stipulate that they can only be asked to share, not directed to share. Personnel will not be authorised to cohabit in MOD funded accommodation, partners cannot be added on to leases  even where personnel have signed a private contract with a landlord.

Landlords vary in the level of service they provide to their tenants. Laws are different in each state and fall very much on the side of the landlord. When dealing with your landlord, keep all communication in writing, retain copies and maintain an amicable working relationship. If you experience difficulties with a property you will be required to negotiate with the landlord to resolve those issues. Personnel are advised to keep landlord tenant relationships professional and cordial.

Allocated properties are only available in certain areas, Washington D.C., Virginia/Tidewater and Beaufort. The accommodation desk officers will do their utmost to source a rental property that fulfils your entitlement and personal needs but the rental market is very fluid and fast moving. Unlike the UK, it is not possible to get a property choice. There is unfortunately no entitlement to a property within a specific school district or close to certain amenities. Allocated properties will be furnished prior to arrival and will have utilities set up in the name of MOD. The sourcing and allocation process is dependant on the actual properties available on the rental market at the time of your arrival.

Anyone wishing to meet individual and very specific needs for their family can opt to source their own property, within entitlement. This decision will have to be declared on the application form to the accommodation team a few weeks before arrival. Personnel sourcing their own properties get 14 days upon arrival to source, negotiate terms, obtain MOD approval, have the lease agreed, arrange furniture and move into the property. Be wary of what you see on realtor’s websites as many properties are not what they seem or may have already been rented out. Be aware that you will also have a number of other calls on your time in this initial period, such as buying cars and obtaining passes and licenses.

If you source your own property and sign the lease in your own name you are personally legally and financially liable for the lease for it’s entire duration. It is not possible to break leases once signed unless you have an assignment order posting you more than 35 miles away from your duty station.

You will be financially liable (lease enforced) for damage above fair wear and tear, this is subjective and you might not agree with the charges raised by your landlord. This includes damage to hardwood floors caused by foot traffic and furniture. The MOD does not provide rugs even if a lease states that floors need to be covered up to a specified percentage. You may be liable for almost anything that the landlord constitutes as damage. Gardens need to be maintained, sometimes to high standards.  Balance the desire for a large garden with the likely burden of maintenance in hot and humid climates.  The landlord has the upper hand so abiding by the BDSUS Sp Gp advice during ‘Move In’ is crucial in order to avert expensive problems at ‘Move Out’. Some personnel have also been fined by the ‘Home Owners Association’ for violations such as not taking care of the lawn or leaving rubbish outside the accommodation on non-collection days. You are advised to take extensive photos of your property including specific photos of any damage or areas that may cause concern or a bill when moving out. These have to be logged with the BDSUS Sp Gp in order to provide evidence in a business case should this be needed. Keep copies of all correspondence with landlord/managing agent, remember to use a personal email address to communicate with your landlord as you will not have access to any US military email accounts once you depart country.

This covers your personal effects in the property and your personal liability to the property and the landlord  and is therefore highly recommended for everyone. Some landlord’s insist on it as a condition of the lease and require that they are named as an interested party. Unfortunately the cost is not reimbursable by the MOD. Some personnel have previously relied on UK based Insurance companies/policy (eg Forces Financial or PAX) and should be aware that doing so can delay the processing of potential claims. Damages can run into 10’s of $1000’s.  Some US insurance companies offer Renters insurance in combination with car insurance and this can be cost-effective.  

Wharfing is the term used for reducing the quantity of furniture holdings in your property. Only furniture items that cannot physically fit into your property can be returned with the delivery vehicle. Personnel not obtaining permission to return items can be held liable for the associated storage charges where these are not readily available. All storage facilities and delivery personnel are contracted civilian companies.

The return of the security deposit is outlined in the lease and is generally returnable within 45 days of the end of the lease. You are liable for all deductions from your security deposit unless you can provide evidence that the charges are unreasonable. You will be required to provide the MOD with a cheque to cover the advance of your security deposit prior to leaving the country. Keep your US bank account open until your security deposit has been returned. A letter to the US bank once back in the UK is sufficient to close your US account.

There may be some restrictions in housing availability arising from pet ownership. For example some breeds may not be accepted and not all areas allow cats to roam outside. Most landlords will require a non refundable pet deposit. You will need to have the MOD furniture and carpets ‘de flea and tick’ treated at your own expense prior to departure. Do not under any circumstances get a pet, including hamsters, guinea pigs and the like during the term of a lease without obtaining written permission from the landlord in advance. Large financial penalties may apply. Personnel have previously faced being charged for the replacement of all the carpets in a property after obtaining 2 cats without the landlord’s permission. Some landlords and apartment complexes only accept dogs of a certain weight. If they subsequently discover that they have been provided with incorrect information about the pet, significant charges can apply and you may be told to remove the animal from the property. The lease cannot be broken under such circumstances. In addition to being financially responsible to your landlord if your pet damages the property you may also be billed for any damage caused by your pet to your MOD provided furniture pack.

For those who come out single and subsequently get married, be advised there is no entitlement (lease restrictions) to move property following a change in personal circumstances. You are advised to inform the accommodation team if planning to get married in your first three months and confirm your new spouse will be joining you within six months of arrival to ensure that your accommodation entitlement is set at your married entitlement on arrival. Similarly, the birth of a child does not attract an entitlement to move into a larger property (lease restrictions) as there is no mechanism to break a lease under these circumstances. You should contact BEET to discuss the options should you get married or have a child after your arrival in country.

Crime is a well known reality in the US and has affected some BDSUS personnel.  But with a bit of research you can take reasonable steps to minimize risk – many areas are quite safe.  There is plenty of online information for you to look at in order to make an informed decision about where to live. Each state is required to make their crime details public, including photographs of individuals on the sex offenders register by zip code (US equivalent to postcodes). Whilst different websites exist for each state, this information is easy to access. Enter your State and Sex Offender Registry into Google search engine or try www.neighborhoodscout.com or www.City-data.com. You can also contact the local Sheriff’s office to obtain more detailed information on the crime rates for specific addresses. 

If you are serving with the US military you might be able to use the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Office which is a fantastic resource for providing legal assistance to military personnel. For many cases the potential financial burden of a legal issue with your landlord is huge. The MOD cannot pay for private legal advice. An important point to remember, it is your name on the lease and you are liable if any part of the lease is violated.  

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2020 @ 9:20 am

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