We’ve all done it. Moved out of Service Families Accommodation (SFA) having scrubbed it until you could eat off the floor – or paid for the cleaners to do it for us – only to move into the next SFA to find that on closer inspection it’s not nearly as clean as the one you left! How is this allowed to happen I hear you cry! Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, tells us more…

Interestingly, recent figures from DIO show that there’s a move-out pass rate of about 63 per cent compared to a move-in pass rate of 95 per cent – so about one in three families fail move-out. This means that there’s much more work to do for the maintenance contractors to bring it up to scratch.

Although you may feel that you have left your SFA immaculate, others haven’t. Knowingly leaving all or parts of the SFA to fail – such as the cooker – may seem like the easy option, however, the money which you will be charged doesn’t go directly back to that SFA – so in the long run it’s not helping the next family. If we all really cleaned our SFA to move-out standard then none of us should be moving into a dirty SFA!

MHS has 22 days to bring each SFA up to move-in standard and the property is then checked and taken back by DIO 48 hours before the move-in date – this should give enough time for any issues to be resolved.

Is your SFA up to standard?

Move-in standard should be the same as the move-out standard however, cleanliness is subjective and, while the Housing Officers (HO) or Estate Managers in Germany and Cyprus are trained on what to expect, there will be an element of difference of opinion. There’s NO excuse for obvious dirt, grease or cobwebs to be present and, if you find these, you are within your rights to refuse to move in. That’s easier said than done with tired children hanging off your legs and a lorry parked up waiting to unload but if you really feel that the SFA is not up to move-in standard you should tell the HO and get them to call the cleaners or maintenance contractor in. If this takes more than a day then they will have to put you up in a hotel and organise for the removals to be delayed. However, let’s be realistic and if it’s only a missed cobweb or a dirty mirror then a flick of a duster will solve it easily on your part.

What else should you expect to find on move-in?

The garden should be tidy and weed free, the garage clean and swept out and the bins cleaned to mention a few. In theory all outstanding works should have been done before move-in so check with the HO if there’s still work to be done and the appointment timings.

Fourteen day report

We all miss things on move-in and that’s where the fourteen day report comes in. This allows you to note down specific things like chipped tiles, stains on carpets so that you will not be charged for them on move-out. If you are in the UK, the report will NOT generate repairs; these have to be reported by you to the MHS Helpdesk or your maintenance contractor. In Germany and Cyprus the fourteen day report DOES generate repairs however, it’s always best to report them as well.

Before you move

Although the obligatory pre move-out inspection gives us time to report and rectify any issues prior to move-out and to find out if the SFA is due new carpets or a redecoration, the onus is on us as occupants to make sure that we report all faults in our SFA in a timely manner so that they can be resolved quickly and easily.

If we all take responsibility for each SFA when we are in it, it will help keep it in good repair so that extra time is not needed to do repairs once you have moved out, potentially delaying the next move-in – which could be you!

Top tips for move-in

  • Take a copy of the move-out standard with you and check that your new SFA matches it. The complete list is at the back of the MHS Guide to Housing Maintenance which is in every SFA
  • Get the HO to show you how to turn on the heating – leave it on to make sure that it’s working and check that the radiators are heating up as you go round the house
  • Test the smoke alarms
  • Turn on the cooker and check the hobs, grill and oven
  • Check that all doors and windows open, close, lock and have keys
  • Ask the HO if there are any outstanding residual maintenance works
  • Check that there’s a copy of the latest gas and electrical safety certificate in the house
  • Make sure that there are manufacturer’s instructions for the cooker, boiler and heating appliances.

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