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Can my leader inspect my off-post housing?

What AR governs the inspection of your privately owned, off-post house?

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Maybe! The regulation I would refer to is AR 600-20. This is a matter of health, welfare, morale, discipline, and well being. However there are very specific limits. See article referenced later in this post for limitation.  In the event you do conduct an inspection my recommendation is that they be informal and conducted with a quick walk through to ensure living conditions are safe, your housing is adequate, the landlord is fulfilling their obligations,  and you are not being mistreated by your landlord. If during the course of the inspection you are found to be living in conditions that are dangerous to you or your family, the military can become involved to a certain degree. This degree varies depending on the situation and where your quarters are: on post, off post, CONUS, or overseas.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • Eck


    CSM Gerecht is correct that unit leadership is responsible for the Moral, Health and Welfare of it’s Soldiers. However, there are some legal issues the command has to consider when wanting to inspect off-base housing or on-base family housing.

    A command can request to inspect a Soldier’s off-post housing, but the Soldier does not have to allow it. Normally, a Soldier who is living off-post is married with a family. The family members and the Soldier have a reasonable expectation to privacy under our constitution. They are also protected from illegal search and seizure. The command doing a directed/forced inspection of an off-post housing unit or on-base family housing violates both of these principals.

    If the command desires to inspect off-base housing and the Soldier allows it, there are no legal isses, but it has to be voluntary on the Soldier’s part and not coerced or volen-told by the command.

    If the unit leadership believes the Soldier is living in unsafe conditions for themselves and/or the Soldier’s family then their are a couple options. All landlords normally have a 24 hour inspection clause in the lease agreement. Should the unit have reasonable cause to suspect a Soldier is living in unsafe conditions then the unit leadership can approach the landlord for assistance. The landlord can give notice and request the unit leadership;s presence when they perform the walk through. If it is an immediate safety issue then the local law enforcement and/or child services should be contacted.

    If the Soldier lives on-post then the PMO and housing authority need to be involved if the Soldier does not grant permission.

    The unit leadership should go through there servicing Staff Judge Advocate for advice on these situations as each one is different.

    A Soldier can go through the servicing legal assistance office or Inspector General office if they feel they are being “forced” to grant permission to an inspection of their on-base family housing or off-base quarters.

    The unit is setting themselves up for an IG, Congressional or White House complaint by doing forced inspections of on-base family or off-base housing.

    These rules are not the same for the command doing inspections of single Soldier barracks.

    I hope you found this useful.

    Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

    • Anonymous


      With off post housing, if you don’t allow them in the Command is threatening to take away BAH and force the SM to move into the barracks. Is that possible? There has been no cause for all off post housing to be inspected.

      • Mark Gerecht


        Here is the response we got from our SME
        Should a commander, or a representative in the command, threaten to take away a Soldiers BAH and move them into the barracks if they don’t allow their off-base or on-base housing, is coercion and very illegal. The command must have a legitimate reason to move a Soldier into the barracks if they are entitled to BAH.

        I have seen this time and time again and the command ALWAYS lose this battle when they try to coerce their way into an off base home. The command has to remember, it is not only the Soldier’s home, but the Soldier’s family’s home also. By coercing their way in, they are violating not only the rights of the Soldier, but the rights of the dependents.

        If a command would force a Soldier into the barracks because they refused to allow them into their off-base or on-base residence, the Soldier’s first stop should be the Legal Assistance office and the second stop is at the IG Office. Also, is the command doing this to everyone, officers, senior enlisted, etc. or just junior NCO’s and lower enlisted? (See the discrimination issue?)

        I would hope that a quick stop by the servicing legal office would put a stop to this issue. Most battalion commanders and below do not have daily access to their legal advisor (usually they work at brigade level) and make these type of decisions without consulting the legal office.

        I hope this helps.
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