OHA recipients urged to reconsider renting homes during Olympics|
by 1st Lt. Carolyn Glover
USAFE-United Kingdom Public Affairs
4/18/2012 - RAF MILDENHALL, ENGLAND -- With the eagerly anticipated 2012 Olympics on the horizon, U.S. government Service members and civilian employees residing near London may be contemplating the possibility of subletting their homes or apartments to make some additional income this summer.
But this could be quite risky as renters may not be considering some serious legal limitations, and possible consequences, associated with the subletting process. Factors such as the fine print in lease contracts and overseas housing allowance guidelines can greatly affect what may seem like a simple financial transaction.
Those considering subletting should first consult their landlord to determine if subletting is authorized as per their letting agreement. If it is authorized, the next step is a visit to the base housing office to adjust the authorized OHA amount.
Members wishing to sublet their homes can expect a reduction in their housing allotment.
"What many people do not realize is that OHA is an entitlement with very specific guidelines," explained Carol Hubbard, U.S. Air Force in Europe - United Kingdom international law attorney. "The government is paying to house employees and their families only, not to assist in a money-making venture. Government employees should expect a lower allowance if they plan on sharing their homes this summer."
Even after members navigate the legal red tape of subletting, they should be aware of any tax implications. Money earned from subletting property can be considered a taxable income - for both the United States and British governments.
"Renters may owe tax to both the U.S. and U.K. governments on the income they receive from subletters. It is a personal responsibility for the renter to ensure they pay the correct amount to the taxation authorities," said Hubbard.
Members should also consider the safety and security risks they are taking should they decide to rent their homes to strangers.
"Opening up your home to a virtual stranger is a huge risk to the safety and well-being of you and your family," said Master Sgt. Brian Cain, USAFE-UK superintendent of security and policing.
Members planning on letting their homes this summer should remove all personal items, especially anything that provides information about the background and identity of the individuals living there.
Service members considering subletting their homes should contact their local housing and legal offices with questions and concerns.