Base Resources Help Renters



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


7/8/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Signing a lease and negotiating with landlords can be complicated, so the Maxwell Family Housing Office and Maxwell Legal Center are here to help.

"We will do everything we can to help you," said Barbie Spraggins, manager of the housing office. "We're a very hands-on housing office."

The housing office helps all members of the Maxwell community, including retirees and civilians.

"We give out information telling people how to protect themselves," said housing referral specialist Laura Martinez. They also have handouts on the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, tenants' rights and lease checklists.

They advise tenants to seek advice before signing a lease. Once a lease is signed, even if it hasn't been sent to the landlord, it is a binding contract.

"Make sure you're reading the lease," said Capt. Clayton Fuller, chief of civil law.
Policies change from state to state, and each lease is different.

"The facts could be different in each case," he said. "Come in and see us, because there could be fact-specific issues to deal with."

The housing office helps newcomers navigate the Automated Housing Referral Network at www.ahrn.com, sponsored by the Department of Defense. "It's done wonders for the military," Spraggins said.

The housing office researches local properties, helping newcomers find the right fit for their families.

They are familiar with most of the landlords and rental agents in the Montgomery area. "I would not feel comfortable sending someone to a stranger," Spraggins said. She and Martinez research crime rates, census tracks and school districts. They distribute information packets on Montgomery and Maxwell events, attractions and services.

They also assist tenants who feel they have been discriminated against and try to prevent unscrupulous landlords from renting to the military. Tenants can submit complaints against problem landlords to the wing commander and Department of Housing and Urban Development.