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Advisory Council on Ethics (ACE)

Advisory Council on Ethics Opinion No. 6

February 25, 1998

What is the position on a person who is furnished State housing as part of his job, renting rooms in the house to other people? What is the position regarding people who are supplied State housing living in the house with someone of the opposite sex to whom they are not married? What is the position on someone whose job description does not call for State housing continuing to occupy State housing?

The TDCJ Ethics Policy, ED-02.01 directly addresses the first question. Section V, subsection A of the policy clearly articulates a prohibition against the use of state resources for private purposes. Under some circumstances-a misuse for personal gain or to harm someone else the misuse of state property is a crime as well as an administrative violation. Renting state housing for personal benefit is a misuse of state property.

Regarding the second question, Executive Directive 11.77 Section (A) states: "Occupancy of single family housing by more than one family is not authorized. Employees assigned to family quarters may be allowed to have other individuals (i.e., other family members) occupy the State-housing with the employee on a temporary basis (bona fide social visits excepted) upon approval from the Warden/Facility Administrator."

Section II (B) states: Social visiting by family members as quests of persons to whom quarters are assigned will not constitute a joint assignment of quarters. Social visits must be bona fide and may not exceed 90 days."

Section IV (D) states: "Immediate termination of occupancy will be at the discretion of the Executive Director or designee as follows: 1. For misconduct, and 2. When occupants are involved in misuse or illegal use of quarters or other conduct contrary to safety, health, or moral standards."

Addressing question #3, Board Policy 11.76, Section 1 (A) states: "All personnel residing in State-owned housing on August 31, 1997, and authorized in accordance with the General Appropriations Act (1995), Riders 10 and 11, as well as 494.007 and 507.022, Texas Government Code, are grandfathered at current rates." Section B further states: "If occupancy begins on or after September 1, 1997, only the employees on an approved list (Wardens, Assistant Wardens, Majors or Correctional Officers, Captains of Correctional Officer, Lieutenants of Correctional Officers, Kennel Sergeants, Maintenance Supervisors, Institutional Division Regional Directors, and Fire/Safety Managers at each facility are authorized to live in State-owned housing free of rental charges.) Any personnel obtaining residence in a State-owned house on or after September 1, 1997 will remit $50 per month for Fiscal Year 1998 and 20% of the fair market rental valuation thereafter. State-owned Bachelor Officers' Quarters (BQQ) will remit $25.00 per month. Those living in Mobile home space will remit $25.00 per month."

It is the opinion of ACE that an occupant of state housing who rents rooms in the house to third parties has clearly violated TDCJ policy and should cease such activities immediately. Further, occupancy in state housing by individuals who are not family must be for bona fide reasons and not exceed 90 days.

All conduct regarding State-housing must be done in compliance with the Directives of TDCJ and the laws of Texas. Only those positions on an approved housing list should qualify for housing free of rental charges. All other employees must comply with the rules and regulations regarding State housing and remittance.