Frequently Asked Questions about Department of National Defence Housing
I want to live in Department of National Defence housing. How is housing assigned to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families?
The Canadian Forces Housing Agency manages housing for Department of National Defence and assigns housing based on the household size, on a first-come, first-served basis.
For example, if a family with two children applies for a house on Monday and another family of the same size applies on Tuesday, the former family will be offered a house first.
There are no housing units available where I’m posted. If I move into housing in the local market, will I still be considered a Priority 1 applicant when Department of National Defence housing becomes available?
Our priority is to support applicants who are moving to a new location and help them secure suitable accommodation as soon as possible. You are considered a Priority 1 applicant when you are posted to the new location. As soon as you move into the local market, you become a Priority 2 applicant, because you already have housing.
I notified my Housing Services Centre of an issue with my housing unit and I’m still waiting for the issue to be resolved. How does the Canadian Forces Housing Agency manage issues with housing units raised by occupants?
We are committed to maintaining the highest standard of customer service and to responding to questions promptly. Your questions and feedback are always welcome as they help to continuously improve service standards. The Housing Services Centres prioritize work based on the following repair and maintenance priorities:
- Emergency – A problem in your home is considered an emergency if it affects your health and safety or if leaving it untended would cause significant damage to your personal property or home. You can expect immediate action, day or night, in these circumstances. We will make the situation safe and begin work to minimize risk of injury or damage to the property or the environment. Subsequent work may be required in the following days.
- Same Day Service – This category applies to situations that could have an impact on your health or safety or cause damage to your home, but is not as urgent as above. This may include blocked drains, leaking pipes, no hot water, etc.
- Routine Maintenance – We aim to fix these problems within 14 days. Your customer service representative will tell you how long it will take and notify you if it will take longer than anticipated. These problems would include repairs such as countertop replacements, flooring repairs, etc.
For more information, please contact your local Housing Services Centre. You can also reach our Head Office Customer Service team by email at CFHA-ALFC.HOPSCS-GLSC@forces.gc.ca or by phone at 1 888-459-2342.
How are decisions made for the repair and maintenance of our home?
The Canadian Forces Housing Agency looks at the health and safety of its families and communities first when scheduling maintenance and repairs; including if the repair is critical to your family’s health and safety and whether it is needed to prevent further deterioration of your home.
In other situations, the Agency will decide when to do the work. For example, in an effort to reduce disruptions to families, the Agency may consider waiting until there is a change of occupancy.
Other considerations factored into the decision-making include: Can the work be done now, or can it wait? Is the work required to meet current codes or standards? Will the work benefit both current and future households? Can the work be done using the home’s current structure? What can be done while the home is occupied?
For more information, please contact your local Housing Services Centre or the Agency Customer Service team. You can reach the Head Office Customer Service team by email at CFHA-ALFC.HOPSCS-GLSC@forces.gc.ca or by phone at 1 888-459-2342.
How does the Canadian Forces Housing Agency decide where and how it spends money on the houses? For example, why is my neighbour getting a new furnace and I am not getting my new garage?
Government departments and agencies are assigned specific budgets, and each budget is reserved for specific types of activities. At the Canadian Forces Housing Agency, there is a budget for planned activities, such as additions or renovations to meet current codes and standards (like building a new garage), and a budget for repairs, maintenance and emergency work such as replacing a furnace.
The Agency looks at how much money was spent in the past, and where, in order to determine how much of the current budget is set aside for planned projects and how much goes to repairs, maintenance and emergency work.
Since the demand for work and improvements to housing units is greater than the amount provided for in the budget, the Agency looks at the health and safety of our families and communities first when setting priorities for projects and work orders.
In other words, there is more funding to fix a door or replace a window which is critical to the comfort and healthy living conditions of a unit, than there is for a complete kitchen renovation. However, the Agency does attempt to invest in lower priority housing improvements depending on the funds available.
For more information about projects taking place in your area or to discuss a concern about your home, please contact your local Housing Services Centre or the Agency Customer Service team. You can reach the Head Office Customer Service team by email at CFHA-ALFC.HOPSCS-GLSC@forces.gc.ca or by phone at 1 888-459-2342.
I am having a problem with my neighbour. What can I do?
The Canadian Forces Housing Agency does not intervene in community-related problems. You are therefore advised to:
If I am not satisfied with the housing services I have been provided from the Canadian Forces Housing Agency, what are my next steps?
You should contact the local Housing Services Centre staff by email, telephone or in person, to discuss the situation and attempt to find a timely solution.
If you are not satisfied with the results, you may wish to escalate the complaint to the local Housing Services Centre manager, who will investigate the matter and advise you of the steps being taken to resolve the situation.
If you are still not satisfied after having completed step 1, please forward the complaint to the Customer Service section at CFHA Head Office for review and decision. The Customer Service section will work with you and the Housing Services Centre to settle the issue. Once your concern has been thoroughly investigated, you will receive the results in writing. If the investigation is expected to take more than ten working days, we will let you know when a response can be expected.
How are the rental rates for the DND housing units set?
According to Government policy and DND regulations, rents for all DND housing must reflect local market values for similar homes in the local market. This helps to ensure fairness and equity for military families, regardless of whether they choose to live in the private sector or in Crown housing. In addition, Government of Canada policy states that DND housing shall be set at market rates to avoid competition with the private sector.
In other words, the policy ensures that a military member is provided with DND housing at a rental cost that is similar to what others in their neighbourhood in the private sector, with a similar housing unit, would pay.
To meet these regulations, we review rents across the country on a yearly basis and make adjustments to reflect changes in the local market, based on the initial value of the unit.
Since April 2013, like other government departments, DND has used Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index to determine its annual housing rent adjustments.
What percentage will rent increase be across Canada for 2017-2018?
The national average for the Consumer Price Index-based rent adjustment process for 2017-2018 will be an increase of 0.6%, with the maximum increase being 1.0%. There are some exceptions:
- Cold Lake, Alberta: rental charges were calculated by an independent third party appraiser due to a significant decline in rental market values in this area
- CFS Leitrim (Det) Masset, British Columbia: rent adjustments will better reflect DND policy involving local leasing arrangements
- Yellowknife and Iqaluit: rents will be adjusted by 1.7% using the All-Items Consumer Price Index as provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat as there is no Rented Accommodation Consumer Price Index value for that area.
Aren’t our houses old? What have we done to improve the condition of DND housing?
We are aware that some of DND’s housing is aging, and we are committed to the improvement, modernization and repair of housing units at bases and wings across the country to contribute to the quality of life of military families.
Over the past five years, $457 million has been invested into DND housing. These investments have yielded improvements to overall condition of DND housing across the country. Currently, 87% of DND’s houses are in average condition or better.
Can I see the details of the appraisals and how the rent increase was applied to individual DND housing rental units?
We are committed to ensuring the integrity and transparency of the rent-setting process. The local HSC can provide some of the analytical information used for the appraisals and information about the methodology that was used in the appraisal process. However, it is not possible to release specific details such as the addresses of comparable houses on the local market or the specific addresses of military members because this information is collected and established on a confidential basis and is protected by the Privacy Act.
Does a garage change an occupant’s rent?
A garage increases the value of the residential housing unit and therefore increases the rent of the property.
When a garage is attached to the house, on-lot or a row garage specifically assigned to the house, the garage value is included in the rent value and the occupant does not see the garage as a separate charge.
When a garage is not assigned to a specific dwelling (more common with row garages), the rent for these garages appears as a separate (additional) charge to the individual.
Is provincial rent control applicable to DND housing?
Provincial rent control is applicable in accordance with regulations. Occupants in rent control provinces in 2017 may see their rent increase up to the provincial limits (British Columbia at 3.7%, Manitoba at 1.5% and Ontario at 1.5%) if they were not paying the full Base Shelter Value (BSV) in the previous year. That means an increase can be higher than the Consumer Price Index percentage increase.
Does the Department offer any housing financial assistance to military members?
Rents (excluding parking costs and utilities) cannot exceed 25% of the combined gross household income for all families living in DND housing. If a member believes they are eligible for a rent reduction, they may apply to their Housing Services Centre for review.
Additionally, the rents for fiscal year 2017-2018 for privates (Incentive Pay Categories 1 or 2) and officer cadets, in accordance with DND regulations, are limited to the rent rate in effect on March 31, 2017 plus 0.6% (the national average increase).
Will the Post Living Differential be adjusted to help with the new rent?
While the Post Living Differential rates currently remain at 2008 levels, the Government of Canada is working to establish a new PLD framework that is affordable and sustainable. The Post Living Differential rates are reviewed regularly to help military personnel and their families with the cost of living when posted to various locations across Canada.
The Post Living Differential allowance is separate from pay. More information on this allowance is available in Chapter 205.45 on Allowances for Officers and Non-Commissioned Members.
Military members continue to be supported by a robust compensation and benefits package, reflecting the unique nature and demands placed on military members and their families. Components of the total compensation package are continuously reviewed and updated as required. The Post Living Differential is one component of the overall benefits package.
If a housing unit is renovated, will the rent increase?
Only major upgrades (total renovation, kitchen and bathroom renovation, etc.) increase the value of the unit and consequently the rent. Repairs and maintenance projects such as plumbing, electrical, or counter replacements will not have an impact on the rent.
What happens if the member does not want to pay the new rent increase?
Living in DND housing is optional for military members and their families. We aim to accommodate every member’s needs, while ensuring all terms, conditions, and policies are understood and respected by both parties.
Do rental rates take into account a military member’s rank?
Rent is purely based on the local market value which considers housing type, size, and age, as well as access to amenities, additions like a garage and general condition of the units. Rank or size of the family is not a consideration for rent setting.
Do the renovations to the houses make them “greener”?
In many cases, yes. We conduct energy efficiency evaluations of housing units by means of Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide for Houses (EGH) for each major renovation or new construction project. EnerGuide 70 targets need to be met for energy efficient upgrades to existing housing units, whereas the EnerGuide 80 target needs to be met for energy efficient newly constructed housing units. Obtaining energy efficient ratings for these housing units will contribute to the department’s green building objectives, provide an element of quality assurance of contractor’s work, and demonstrate the Agency’s commitment to comfortable and energy efficient housing for the end user.
By also replacing heating, cooling, and ventilation systems with energy efficient models and by improving building envelopes in the residential portfolio, DND improves energy efficiency, uses resources more efficiently, has less environmental impact, and may reduce the financial impact to occupants from increasing energy prices.
How does the Consumer Price Index work?
As defined on the Statistics Canada’s website, “the Consumer Price Index is an indicator of the changes in consumer prices experienced by the target population. The Consumer Price Index measures price change by comparing, over time, the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services.”
Once Statistics Canada publishes the report in the fall, we apply the provincial Rented Accommodation Consumer Price Index accordingly to the housing rents.
How does this percentage increase translate to actual rental costs?
For 2017, the national average shelter charge increase for DND housing units will be approximately $5 per month, representing 0.6%.
Why has there been a 10% rent reduction in Cold Lake since 2012?
To ensure military housing continues to be a viable option for military members living in Cold Lake, and to address the issue of a high vacancy rate for DND’s housing, in December 2012 the Minister of National Defence directed a reduction in rents by 10% to encourage occupancy for military members in DND housing in Cold Lake. The Minister has directed that the 10% reduction be applied again in fiscal year 2017-2018.
It should be noted that when rent is reduced to less than the fair market value calculated for DND housing, the difference between what is being charged and the market value is considered a taxable benefit as per the Income Tax Act.
What about military rental costs in Cold Lake? The local market rental cost has dropped over the past couple of years.
According to Government policy and DND regulations, rent for all housing units must reflect local market values for similar homes to ensure fairness and equity for military families, regardless of whether they choose to live in the private sector or in DND housing.
We are committed to ensuring this policy and DND regulations are met, which is why the rents are reviewed and adjusted annually.
In response to concerns expressed regarding the high cost of housing on the base in Cold Lake, Alberta, an independent appraisal was done.. As a result, rents for Cold Lake housing units have been adjusted to reflect local private sector marketplace rental rates beginning April 1, 2017. The majority of rents there will decrease while a small percentage will see an increase, largely due to the fact that their housing unit shelter charges were closer to the current market value.
What were the results of the independent appraisal of rental housing at Cold Lake?
The economic decline in the Alberta oil and gas sector starting in 2014 resulted in a drop in housing costs in the Cold Lake area. In 2016, the continued decline appeared to indicate that our housing units were at or above market, prompting the independent appraisal. After an analysis and assessment of the DND housing in Cold Lake, the results of appraisals showed housing units required an average reduction of 15%.
Why wasn’t this done sooner in Cold Lake?
We regularly review and determine whether DND housing requires a change in the rental charge to reflect fluctuations in the local rental market and applies a housing rent adjustment annually.
When residential rental markets in Alberta rose a few years ago due to oil and gas industry economic growth in the area, DND provided housing unit occupants in Cold Lake with a 10% rent reduction to encourage occupancy and compensate for the increases in costs, while a longer term solution was studied.
Independent appraisals were carried out and analyzed to determine the extent to which the private sector housing rental market rates had shifted.
With these results, we then made the change to adjust annual housing unit rental costs to reflect local private sector market rental rates beginning with the coming year in April 2017.
Why weren’t the rent adjustments in Cold Lake calculated based on the Consumer Price Index?
Based on our analysis and on concerns raised by the Royal Canadian Air Force, the department determined that the Consumer Price Index adjustment in Alberta was not accurately reflecting the Cold Lake rental housing market. As a result, we used an independent residential market rent assessment for the 2017-2018 adjustment, reflecting an average reduction of 15% to the local market.
What will the average rent adjustment be for housing units at Cold Lake?
For the 496 currently occupied housing units, the appraised 2017-2018 rent will be on average $182 per month (or 15%) lower than the full 2016-17 rent (without the 10% adjustment).
With the 10% reduction in place for 2016-17, occupants saved an average of $117 per month. With the 10% reduction in place for 2017-2018, occupants will save an average of $99 per month. A total of 487 occupants will still see additional savings while nine occupants will see an increased out-of-pocket expense of approximately $11 per month.
How many military members in Cold Lake will pay less for rent in DND-managed housing in 2017 than they did last year?
The total number of military members in housing units in Cold Lake is approximately 496. Of these, 487 will pay less for rent than they did in 2016-17. These 487 occupants will see an average reduction of $167 per month.
How many military members in Cold Lake will pay more for rent in DND housing in 2017 than they did last year?
With the 10% reduction for 2017-2018, only nine of the 496 current occupants (as of Dec 15) will have an additional out-of-pocket monthly expense of approximately $11 each.
CFS Leitrim (Det) Masset
Why is the he rent for housing units in Masset British Columbia going to be of greater value than in other parts of Canada?
We regularly review and determine whether DND housing requires a change in the rental charge to reflect fluctuations in the local rental market and applies a housing rent adjustment annually.
We have addressed an exceptional circumstance with the housing units at CFS Leitrim (Det) Masset. They are leased on behalf of DND to meet the requirements for housing for military members and their families in this location and were being subsidized by DND for the rental occupants.
The annual rent adjustment process on these housing units will now be modified for fiscal year 2017-2018. Starting on April 1, 2017, the rent for occupants of the Masset housing units will reflect the local rental market value and leasing costs borne by us to lease these properties from the local private sector marketplace.
How many occupants and families in Masset will this affect?
In total, seven military members will be affected by this change. The adjustment is necessary now to meet compliance with government housing policies.
Other measures are also in place to limit rent increases and their resulting impact on military families. For example, in Masset, the annual rent adjustment for existing occupants will be limited to a maximum of $100 per month regardless of the appraisal value.
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