Are troops signing agreements to keep quiet about their housing problems?
MILITARY TIMES (March 9, 2019) — Privatized housing companies that are asking service members to sign agreements promising to keep silent about their poor housing conditions must immediately stop, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told the service secretaries and service chiefs during a hearing Thursday.
Tillis Calls for End to NDAs for Servicemembers with Housing Problems…
“These organizations wave a non-disclosure agreement in front of them and say, if you sign this agreement, there may be a bonus or payment you’ll be entitled to if you don’t bring up what may be inadequate housing,” Tillis said, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I can’t imagine on any level why it would make sense to have a new tenant, these young kids, sign an agreement, not understanding the implications of it,” Tillis said, noting it could well be the first lease that service member has ever signed.
Non-disclosure agreements, or confidentiality agreements, are legal contracts that outline information that will be kept secret.
“I’ve been a landlord before and it never would have occurred to me to say I want you to sign away your right to say you’re living in inadequate conditions,” Tillis said.
Senators have been exploring issues with housing that some military families have faced with black mold, pest infestations, water leaks, and other problems, and their inability to get satisfactory responses from their privatized housing managers.
“If any of these are enforced, I expect them to be rescinded over the next 30 days,” Tillis said. “And over the next 30 days, if they’re not rescinded, I want to know what housing company wants to come before me and tell me why it makes sense. Tell me the business reason why it makes sense. Tell me the reason why it’s for the good of the tenant. I’d love to have that conversation.
“But I’ll guarantee you, this has got to stop.”
Tillis said he learned about the agreements from families at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when he and Army Secretary Mark Esper visited there recently. Esper said that was the first time he’d heard about the agreements, too. “I don’t understand it, I’ve never heard of it before in my life. … We’ve definitely got to dig into this,” Esper said. “There’s no reason why people should be signing [nondisclosure agreements].”
Watch Tillis’ comments on housing providers issuing NDAs to military families
A Military Times Press Release (By: Karen Jowers)