Sunday, January 8, 2012

House Hunting "Leave"

Consider the following scenario:

You just got your PCS orders from Norfolk to Washington DC. Besides being overjoyed to spend the next three years of your life slaving away in the Pentagon, you are looking forward to getting to know a new area, meet new people, and see all the monuments in DC that you only briefly saw on a high school field trip.

Never having been to DC, you ask your boss for house hunting leave. He hems and haws, and eventually tells you to take it after you PCS, since your gaining command will be more than happy to give you the time off. So you detach, arrive at your new command...and get instantly slammed into your job. You take your own personal time after work and on the weekends to find a place.

Familiar? I've heard (and experienced) this story all too often.

The problem is two-fold: first, house hunting "leave" doesn't exist. Second, most people have never read the instruction.

There are different types of leave, but none of them are house hunting leave. What people should say instead is "Permissive TAD for house hunting." This is VERY different from leave. When you go on leave, you are technically on an "authorized absence" from your command. When you go home from work, until you come back the next day, you are technically on liberty, which is "routinely authorized absence."

Confused yet? To make it more simple:
- Liberty means you are staying in the area of your work, and can return to work in a reasonable amount of time (typically, less than 150 miles)
- Leave means you are NOT staying in the area, and you are not able to come into work quickly

Now that we've gone through that, realize that house hunting is neither of these.

The instruction that governs it is MILPERSMAN 1320-210, located here:

The instruction authorizes your detaching command to give you up to 10 days of permissive temporary additional duty (TAD) to go find a place to live, assuming you have PCS orders and are moving out of the area, or moving to an afloat unit.

The advantage of being TAD instead of leave is that once leave ends, you have to report to the command that issued you the leave. TAD orders can be written so that you report to your new command. So you can detach from your command, find a place to live, and then report to your new command without having to backtrack or spend any of your accrued leave.

So, if there is an instruction on this, why do I hear constant stories of people being denied the opportunity to house hunt? A few reasons come to mind:

1. Most people don't realize there is an instruction. They think its some kind of backdoor good deal you're supposed to get.

2. Not knowing about the instruction, too many commands are lazy and don't want to write you temporary orders, so they are more than happy for you to take a crap answer and get out of their hair.

3. Once you get to a command, they want you to work. They only get you for 2-3 years, so they want to make the most out of your time.

How do you prevent getting screwed? A couple of tips:

1. Read the instruction. It's small (6 pages), and it spells out exactly what you are and aren't allowed to do.

2. Ask for the TAD orders early, preferably as soon as you get PCS orders. It's easier to get your command to do something when you aren't scrambling last minute.

3. When you get the inevitable crap answer about not granting you orders, print out the instruction and get them to sign a memo saying that you need 10 days upon arrival at your new command. This does two things: it often gets them to back down and give you orders (nobody likes signing their name to a letter), and it guarantees your new command will understand that you got stiffed and will let you find a place.

We have house hunting TAD for a reason: we constantly move our people and they need a few days to find a place to live. That is reasonable, hence it being covered in an instruction. Take the time that you are authorized for so that you can be properly focused at work.

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  1. Don't forget, per the MILPERSMAN, TAD for House Hunting shall only encompass 5 working days. They get 10 days by giving you the weekend prior, and a 3-day holiday weekend following the 5 working days, if you are lucky enough to have a holiday weekend following your TAD. The same applies for retirees and involuntary separated personnel for their job hunting "leave".
    Also, if you take the time prior to detaching your command, you are fully responsible for all of your travel costs. If you go enroute or after you report to your gaining command, the travel costs coincide with the cost of your move.

  2. Good point Mandy! And welcome CDR, good to see you here, I'm a big time reader of your blog.

  3. Always plan early...When negotiating for orders try to get transfer leave since you don't get a whole lot of chances when your working anyhow. That can be up to 30 days between commands to move and adjust. Obviously, after researching a place to live, house hunting leave is good for getting a couple days of TDY to check up on places and make a deal. Besides...who wants to spend more than 5 working days signing a lease and such on your own dime when that money is better spent on a vacation while on leave?

  4. "The advantage of being TAD instead of leave is that once leave ends, you have to report to the command that issued you the leave. TAD orders can be written so that you report to your new command. So you can detach from your command, find a place to live, and then report to your new command without having to backtrack or spend any of your accrued leave"

    I have been charged 10 days of leave for doing this exact process above. The TSC civilian at the school house based his rationale on this section of the instruction when I reported in. My process: 28DEC12 I checked out of my command in SD, CA - drove across country to VB, VA arrived 9JAN13 (12 days for my travel days and proceed) - Permissive TAD 9JAN13-17JAN13 - Checked in 17DEC13 and was charged 9 or 10 days of leave.

    Section of Instruction used to disclaim my Permissive TAD orders from my previous command:
    "11. Permissive TAD Policy at New PDS. Permissive TAD
    authorizations for residence hunting shall not be permitted as
    part of funded official orders, except as described in the
    “Policy Exception” paragraph above.
    a. Permissive TAD for residence hunting is not authorized
    between either PDS or intermediate duty stations during the
    servicemember’s execution of PCS orders. (Per paragraph 5f, the
    member must return to the intermediate duty station prior to
    resuming execution of the PCS orders)."

    Would love to get this straight and possibly get back my leave lost if possible.

    1. That would be your Yeoman screwing you over. After you checked into your command, you were no longer on the PCS orders, you were there. So the command should have issued you a no-cost TDY ten days. What the rule says is that you can't write the no-cost into the PCS orders.

    2. Whoever told her not to check in on the 9th screwed her over. Had she checked in they could have put her on Permissive TAD. She didn't check in, so she was properly charged leave.

  5. I know this is an old thread, but any response to the last inquiry from Jessica Rose Morris would be helpful.