Many service personnel have accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence. When you are scheduled to leave the service, you should receive plenty of advance notice, which will give you time to find somewhere to live on your discharge.
How much notice will you get?
The amount of notice you will get of the date you have to leave your MOD accommodation, depends on your reasons for leaving the service, but in most cases you will have 3 months’ advance notice.
In cases of normal discharge, you should get at least 93 days’ notice, and your notice period will normally expire on the last day of your armed forces service.
If you’ve been discharged with short notice, you should still get 93 days’ notice, but this period might actually take you beyond your final day of service.
If you are living in MOD accommodation with a partner who is a serving member of the armed forces and your relationship ends, you will be given a maximum of 93 days in which to reconcile. After this 93 day period, the service person will be categorised as a single person and any remaining family members will be issued with a 93 day notice to vacate the accommodation. Once this notice period ends, anybody who remains in the property will be treated as an illegal occupant.
Getting ready to move
There will be a pre-move out advisory visit from MOD about two months before the date you are required to leave your home. The meeting should take about 45 minutes. During this visit, you’ll be told what you need to do in advance of leaving. Normally, the officer visiting your home will do a quick inspection to see if there are any issues that need to be sorted out before you leave. You’ll have to sign a form to confirm that you’ve had this meeting and that you understand what condition you need to leave the property in.
CarillionAmey, the organisation that looks after most MOD housing, runs a Walk Away Cleaning Scheme. This is basically an insurance scheme. If you buy into this scheme you won’t have to worry about doing a really detailed cleaning of the property before you leave, although you’ll still have to make sure that it’s hygienically clean. You can find out more about the Walk Away scheme on CarillioinAmey’s website.
You’ll need to contact CarillionAmey to arrange your final move-out appointment. This is when you actually hand the keys of your property back. If you can’t attend this appointment, you can nominate someone else to be there on your behalf, but you’ll have to discuss this with CarillionAmey first.
Your options when you leave MOD accommodation will be to
- Apply for social housing
- Find a private property to rent or
- Buy your own home
You can apply for social housing in Northern Ireland online or by requesting a paper application form from NIHE. Once your application is registered, you will be eligible for offers from all social housing providers.
In order to be eligible for housing, you have to show that you have a local connection to Northern Ireland. If you have previously served here, you won’t automatically be seen to have a local connection, but NIHE should consider your history and connection to the area to see if it is strong enough to make you eligible for housing.
On your application, you will have to select two areas of Northern Ireland in which you’d like to live. The amount of time that you will then wait for an offer of housing will depend on
- How many points you are awarded and
- The availability of the type of housing you require in those area.
Getting help if you are homeless
If you don’t have anywhere to move to, you can ask the Housing Executive for help. The Housing Executive has a legal duty to provide accommodation to anyone who is legally homeless. You can approach the Housing Executive to ask for an assessment once you have fewer than 28 days remaining in your current home.
The Housing Executive will only have a legal duty to assist you if you pass four tests. These are
- Homelessness – you will pass this test if you have to leave your current home in less than 28 days
- Eligibility – you will only fail this test if you have been involved in certain types of antisocial behaviour or your nationality or immigration status restricts your access to public services
- Priority need – you will pass this test if you have dependent children, are pregnant, have a serious illness or disability. If you’ve been in the services for a long time, you could also pass this test if you have been institutionalised as a result of your service
- Intentionality – you will pass this test as long as you haven’t intentionally done anything to make yourself homeless. The fact that your service is ending doesn’t mean you fail this test.
Finding a privately rented property
Some people will be happy to move into a privately rented property, particularly if they’re not sure yet where they want to live permanently. In most cases, you will need to have quite a bit of money saved up in order to get a new privately rented tenancy. Most landlords will ask for a month’s rent in advance and for a deposit, which is usually the equivalent of one month’s rent.
If these upfront costs are going to make things difficult for you, you may be able to get some help. You could apply for an interest-free loan from the discretionary support fund to help with your first month’s rent. You’ll have to pay this money back, but the repayments should be manageable.
These charities may be able to offer you a grant or a loan to help you with the upfront costs of renting a new home.
Buying your own home
There are a number of schemes to help people buy a home, including shared ownership and rent to own schemes. The government also provides a Forces Help to Buy Scheme, although that is targeted at service personnel who are still actively serving in the armed forces.