Many overseas military bases are located in high-cost areas. Add to this the fact that housing on and off base is often in short supply, and the fact that there are sometimes wild fluctuations between the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies and you have a complicated, and sometimes expensive, situation. The military has created an Overseas Housing Allowance to help members deal with these problems.
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is a tax-free monthly allowance paid to service members stationed OCONUS and authorized to live in private housing. OHA helps to pay for housing and includes rent and utility/recurring maintenance expenses.
Even though your OHA is broken down into a rent and utility/recurring maintenance amount it will appear as one payment on your LES.
You are paid OHA in the exact amount of your rent, plus an amount determined by DoD to cover the utility and recurring maintenance expenses for their location. The amount is determined based on location, rank, and dependency status.
For example, if Airman Normandy rents a house in England for £1000 a month, and the local utility/maintenance expenses are £100 a month his paycheck will include OHA in the amount of dollars that equals £1100. The amount of the rent portion of the OHA payment never exceeds the rent cost, and there are limits which vary based on paygrade and number of dependents.
Your OHA can change every month based on the exchange rate between the local currency and the U.S. Dollar.
Multiple single service members living off base overseas, can split the rent in any fashion, as long as the total amount paid in OHA doesn't exceed the actual rental expenses. So Airman Normandy and Airman Brittany could share a house that costs £1500, and each pay £750, or one of them could pay £700 and one could pay £800, each would qualify for the 1/2 of the utility/recurring maintenance expense.
Dual military couples living off base overseas are treated as separate entities for purposes of OHA. They are each eligible to claim OHA costs up to the amount of their OHA limit, but the total payments between the two of them may not exceed the actual amount of their rent. This is true regardless of whether or not they have dependents. If they do have dependents, one service member (usually the more senior) is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the with dependents rate, and the other service member is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the without dependents rate.
Move In Housing Allowance (MIHA)
MIHA is also tax-free and is paid when you move in, helping to offset costs associated with initial occupancy. There are four different types of MIHA. You may be eligible for some or all of them, depending on your local situation. These include:
- Move-In Housing Allowance/Miscellaneous: This is a set amount paid in a lump-sum and no receipts are required. This is used to buy necessities like sinks, toilets, light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and a refrigerator and stove (which sometimes are not provided in overseas dwellings).
- Move-In Housing Allowance/Rent: This covers all rent related expenses, receipts are required. These expenses are fixed, one time, non refundable charges paid to the landlord, their agent or a foreign government which the member must pay before moving in. Examples are real estate agent fees, redecoration fees, and one-time lease taxes.
- Move-In Housing Allowance/Security: These security related expenses are for designated areas where dwellings must be modified to minimize exposure to a terrorist or criminal threat. Receipts are required. Expenditures which are not related to the physical dwelling, such as personal security guards or dogs, aren't allowed. Move-In Housing Allowance security payments must be approved by the senior officer in the country.
- Move-In Housing Allowance/Infectious Disease: This is a set amount to modify a dwelling to prevent you from getting an infectious disease like malaria. You can use it to buy window and door screens, mosquito nets, etc. This is only available in designated areas.
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