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A house sits for rent in Landstuhl, Germany.

A house sits for rent in Landstuhl, Germany. (Sam Amrhein/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Servicemembers living off base in Germany and in as many as 20 other countries overseas are being asked to take part in the Defense Department’s annual housing survey, the results of which could adjust housings benefit up or down.

The current survey, available online through March 31, does not cover rental expenses. Rather, it measures two other components of overseas housing allowance: utility/recurring maintenance allowance and move-in expenses.

The former is paid monthly to defray expenses paid directly to utility companies and expenses incurred from ongoing maintenance and minor repairs. The other is a one-time payment given to servicemembers when they move to Germany, said Bill Gordon, U.S. Army Europe personnel division’s chief of military pay policy.

Military personnel can report as a move-in expense “anything they incurred when they moved in, whether they painted the place, bought new appliances, furniture,” Gordon said.

The move-in allowance is adjusted only every three years, while the utility allowance rate for servicemembers can change every year.

The Defense Travel Management Office, which conducts the survey, suggests servicemembers gather up actual bills or records of utility and recurring maintenance expenses for the past 12 months to prepare for the survey.

USAREUR officials said the survey is critical for ensuring OHA rates are properly set at overseas locations.

Other participating countries include Russia, Moldova and the Netherlands, according to USAREUR.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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