Renting Homes Outside of Rank

8 Replies

My husband is a medical officer in the military and will be deploying soon. When he does, I will be leaving our duplex for a few months to stay with family. We were hoping to provide our unit as a short-term, furnished unit to military families who move to the area and have not yet secured permanent housing (a situation we found ourselves in a year ago when a deal fell through on a home that we hoped to purchase). However, my husband is concerned with potential backlash from the Navy if we rent to anyone below him in rank... particularly, anyone who might later become a patient of his. His specific concern is that someone might claim that there was some sort of inappropriate relationship (financial or otherwise) established between care provider and patient. He prefers that we list it on Air B n B to avoid a potential headache. 

While I understand his concern, the reality is that we have several units available to the public—many just so happen to be rented to military members— and that a person below him in rank may also rent the unit if posted on Air B n B. Furthermore, to deny housing in our own home to a military member (who could potentially become a patient) could constitute as discrimination.

Does anyone have any experience with this, or has anyone spoken to a legal representative within the Navy regarding renting to someone outside of ones own rank? Any guidance is appreciated. 

Bottom line: it is a non issue.  I am currently renting a house from someone senior in rank while I also rent out a house in NC to someone junior in rank.  To ensure impartiality in the process you can use an intermediary to  handle the transaction.

Dang, I actually dug all through the regulation for this one because I was curious.

For any that are curious....this is found in AR 600-20, para. 4-14c(1)

(1) Ongoing business relationships between officers and enlisted personnel, or NCOs and junior enlisted Soldiers.This prohibition does not apply to landlord/tenant relationships or to one-time transactions such as the sale of an automobile or house

This is an Army reg, so different branches should check their regulations. You and your husband should be good.

If he is still worried about it you can ask JAG or use a property manager to create a level of separation between you and the tenant. 

Have your contracts looked over by a lawyer both civilian and JAG to make sure it clears everything. @Lorenzo Wright is correct, housing is an exception to policy (with Army) with proper paperwork in place. If your husband leveraged his rank and abused his power by ordering more money or extra work at the house. That is illegal. You should be good, but I am not a legal expert and would talk to both JAG sand a civi lawyer. 

@Brittany Regts ,

I agree with your husband. Insert a third party to ensure that it is an arms length transaction. Even the perception of in-propriety can be detrimental to "good order and discipline". You can be 100% in the right, but if you open yourself up to a claim otherwise then you will already have lost. You don't want him to even have to defend himself against a claim that he did something wrong. Even if he wins it will have bad consequences at work. Just not worth it in my opinion. 

I do own rental property and have rented to many military personnel junior to me, but I have always used a property manager for those units and never have direct contact with the tenants.

Since this is a concern for you I would hire a property manager to lease the property and deal with the tenant. I own multiple properties around military bases and am actively serving. I rent mostly to military and as long as they meet my property managers criteria for renting they get the place and my property manager deals with them exclusively. I don’t know any of them and am not involved with the tenants in any way. This is the simplest way to do it, but as far as the Army is concerned, it is not an issue.

Im Active Duty Navy, this is a non issue.  You can not have a buisness relationship however this does not apply to the relationship between a landlord and a tennant.  That being said it is all or nothing, so should you have an issue with one of your tennants that are of a lessor or even higher rank your husband can not use his active duty status to resolve any issues that arise.  He would have to use the same channels as a landlord that had no military affiliation otherwise he may find himself in a bind.

@Brittany Regts As most have already said, this is not an issue. The only way it could be look at as fraternization is if someone was in your husband's chain of command, which I doubt that would ever happen. The best advice on this thread is to use a property manager, or third party, to handle all of your tenants. This keeps you and your husband from being viewed in any light as showing partiality to a specific tenant. Also, as you grow and have more properties, you'll want a property manager in place anyways! Great idea to rent out your property while you are away. Good luck! 

On top of what others have said, through short term rental apps (Airbnb/VRBO etc.) and property managers, or Craigslist, you are meeting these tenants as a landlord, and not as an (insert rank here)...It wouldn't be an issue because you didn't use rank to persuade. That would be like showing up to a garage sale in officer housing, then trying to sue the officer for selling you something...nobody is going to let that fly.

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