**Note: Contact details for DRHMs updated 3 April 2023**
Home is where the heart is…unless you’re a Defence family, then home is where you’re being posted and what is available to you.
While you often cannot usually choose exactly where we live, you can choose to be prepared and well-informed.
It is essential to know your rights and responsibilities to make setting up your home – or packing up for your next posting – as painless as possible.
Here, the DFA delegate team shares what they believe are five key things you need to know before you settle down…for now!
1. Know your maintenance responsibilities
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Just as you would expect under a civilian rental arrangement, you have maintenance responsibilities for the Defence Housing Australia (DHA) property you are living in.
Under the terms of your DHA Residence Agreement (DRA), you must notify DHA of any damage, defects or deterioration to the property.
The sooner you notify DHA of the changes to the property, the better. Early notification can help them to keep the property in good condition during your tenancy.
As per their policy, all routine maintenance requests are recorded and DHA are required to respond to your requests within 28 days.
To find out more about what constitutes fair wear-and-tear, along with specific responsibilities about managing other property features such as swimming pools, or even what to do when you find termites (hint: call them right away on 139 342), go to the DHA website.
2. Document everything
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You know how millennials are sometimes given grief about how they take photos of everything?
This is the time to tap into that millennial energy – take plenty of your own video footage or photos of the property before you move anything into it.
Zoom in on details which could be disputed as non-fair wear-and-tear charges when you move out.
Stains on the carpet? Snap it. Chipped tiles? Camera time. Mould on the bathroom ceiling? Take a pic. Dints in the garage door? Photo time. Dead or weedy grass? You get the picture.
Importantly, make sure your property manager also receives a copy of your images and videos within 14 days of moving in, or include images in your Condition Report submitted within 14 days of moving in.
3. Make your special needs known
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If you have family members with special needs, Defence offers assistance to reduce the impact of relocation, including enhancing housing choice to prevent interruption to specialist services and schooling.
In the first instance, make sure you register your family’s additional requirements with Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS). The member’s chain of command will assist with this process.
If anyone in your household needs specific modifications, such as ramps, the removal of carpets or addition of safety rails, it is also possible to obtain these.
If you need additional advice, Defence Special Needs Support Group (DSNSG) may be able to assist.
You can also contact your local Directorate of Relocations and Housing team for more information.
4. You can say ‘no’
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When inspecting your reserved Service Residence at your Welcome Visit, if it is not appropriately cleaned, has significant maintenance issues or is or not what was advertised, you can reject the property.
If you do not agree with non-fair wear-and-tear charges identified at your periodic inspection, pre-vacation inspection, or at a second/final inspection, you have the option to dispute the charge.
You can do this by contacting the Directorate of Relocations and Housing team.
5. Contact the DFA National Delegate for your state or territory
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If you feel like you are unable to resolve a housing issue, you can reach out to our team.
While we may not always have all the answers, our team can help point you in the right direction.
We can also help advocate on your family’s behalf or suggest alternative or interim solutions which would best suit your situation.
All the best with your move!