Occupancy Requirements - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Most veterans say that some of the more confusing aspects of qualifying for a VA loan are the occupancy requirements. This usually stems from when a service member gets their PCS orders and has to move. Will they be able to rent the house? Will they be able to get a second VA loan at their new location? Are there penalties or fines for not meeting this requirement?

While it can seem daunting, understanding the occupancy requirements of a VA loan is actually quite simple if you break it down.

Primary Residence Requirements

You must certify that you intend to occupy the property as your home. Second homes and investment properties do not qualify for a VA loan.

Spouse Occupancy

The occupancy requirement is satisfied if your spouse will be living in the home while you’re on active duty or otherwise unable to personally occupy the home. A spouse may also satisfy the occupancy requirement if the veteran cannot due to long distance employment issues.

Dependent Occupancy

A dependent child may occupy the home while their parent or parents are deployed or on active duty away from the home. It’s important to note that just by having the dependent in the home does not satisfy the requirement. You must take additional action by having your attorney or dependent’s legal guardian make the occupancy certification. Please keep in mind that many lenders will not recognize dependent occupancy as satisfying the VA loan occupancy requirement.

Deployed Active Duty Service Members

If you’re deployed after purchasing your home, your occupancy status is not affected by the deployment. You are considered to be in a “temporary duty status” and are able to provide a valid intent to occupy certification. This requirement is met regardless of whether or not your spouse will be occupying the property while you’re deployed.

Retirement Occupancy

If you’ll be retiring within 12 months from the date of your loan application, you must include a copy of your application for retirement and proof of requirement stability. Although the VA requires moving in to the home within a “reasonable time,” retiring veterans may be able to negotiate a later move-in date. You have the option to apply for a delay (up to 12 months) in the occupancy requirements.

Delayed Occupancy

Typically, a delayed occupancy results from property repairs or home improvements. If extensive changes are being made to the property that prevent you from occupying it while the work is being completed, your occupancy requirements will be considered “delayed.”  However, you must certify that you intend to occupy the property as soon as the work is completed.

What Is “Reasonable Time”?

VA loan occupancy requires that the veteran move into the home within a “reasonable time.” But what does that mean? The VA requires that the borrower move into the home within 60 days after the VA loan closes.

As you’ve read, there are exceptions to that rule. The 60-day rule may be waived if you meet both of the following conditions:

  • You certify that you will occupy the property at a specific date after your VA loan closes.
  • There is a specific event in the future that will make it possible for you to occupy the property on that date.

Generally, the VA does not make exceptions if you want to set an occupancy date for more than 12 months after your loan closes.

Failure to Meet Requirements

If you do not occupy the home as agreed under the terms of your VA loan, what happens next is at the discretion of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Even though it seems as if there are a lot of “if, then” rules to define occupancy, it’s really not as complicated as it appears. The VA works hard to help borrowers understand how to fit their situation into these guidelines, and help set you up for success. Understanding your rights and benefits is something that a qualified Home Loan Expert is more than willing to help you with. Remember to always work with a lender who is skilled and specialized in the nuances of VA loans.



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This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. If a divorce agreement is being sought after what would happen to a Veterans ability to use the VA benefits (VA home loan) to buy a house after both parties agree to sell the house and split the equity given the circumstances that the spouse is a coborrower on the Home? After selling the house would the veteran be able to start their life over and look for another house free from the ex spouse?

    1. Hi George:

      That’s correct. The VA doesn’t care how you and your ex-spouse split the money as long as the loan is paid off. Once that happens, you can move on and get another VA home loan.

      Kevin Graham

  2. I am prior military and i took out a VA loan mid 2016. A few weeks ago my wife and i decided to get a divorce and her name is on the loan also. It has been decided that I will keep the house. Is there a way to get her name off of my loan without refinancing or is it possible for her to sign her rights over on the loan so I may not have to refinance and she will not be able to do anything with the mortgage?

    1. I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our home loan experts to get the right advice for sure. You’ll probably have to refinance because you’ll be qualifying on your own without her income, if that makes sense. That being said, you should give us a call at (888) 980-6716 to get a definitive answer.

      Kevin Graham

  3. I’m the Vet, we own the home together using VA loan. I can’t afford to move and find another place, and he wants the house. He won’t leave the house. I really need that VA benefit back so that I might be able to find another place, with my credit intact. At the moment he has no money/ job. We also have a child in school. I’d like to have everyone supported here, but how can I force him to make a decision to sell, or buy me out, or leave? What are the guidelines around this?

    1. Hi Barb:

      Typically, the way you would work this is that in your divorce agreement, he gets the house, but you give him a certain amount of time to refinance into a different loan. That would be written into the agreement and negotiated. If you’re already divorced, your actions may be limited, but I would recommend talking to a lawyer.

      Kevin Graham

  4. Recently got divorced; The house is on a VA loan with both our names on it. The deed is in my name only. Trying to assume the loan. What hurdles can I run into here? Does he have to agree to the assuming process?

    1. There are a few things here. If you’re in a community property state, he may have rights to the house that would need to be figured out in the divorce agreement. You can ask for the loan servicer to give you information about their specific assumption process. However, I can tell you that if he is the veteran, he wouldn’t be able to get a VA loan again until you refinanced into a different loan type like conventional or FHA. For this reason, in divorce agreements, there’s typically a certain length of time you would be given to refinance into another loan. That’s something you and your ex may negotiate. I know that doesn’t answer all the questions, but every lender handles assumptions in their own manner. Hope this helps at least a little.


  5. My soon to be ex husband is a veteran. We are in the process of getting divorce. We have a home through his VA loan. The loan is in both mine and his name. He has been threatening me daily that I have to sell the house because I am not a veteran. He does not want the house, I do. What are the rights I have. I do not want to lose my home.

    1. Hi April:

      This is something the two of you would need to work out in the divorce agreement. There are two parts to this. You need to decide who gets the house. It will be you if he doesn’t want it. Beyond that, something that can be negotiated in the divorce agreement is how long you would have to refinance into another non-VA loan. He’ll want this because he can’t buy another property with a VA loan until the current loan on the house is paid off. But the two of you would have to negotiate that. And he can’t just automatically kick you out of the house if you’re on the title. Things need to be negotiated. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

      1. I’ve been divorced for four years and our decree says I will keep the house. The loan is under VA, both of our names on it. The decree did not specify that I need to refinance under my name only. Currently, he is asking me to refinance under my name because he is needing the VA loan. I told him I can’t refinance because I can’t afford the extra fees and other payments. But then I’m negotiating with him to help me with the fees if i plan to refinance. Can I still use the VA loan if he doesn’t agree to the terms? What can happen if I keep the loan?

        1. Hi Sasha:

          You can theoretically stay in the VA loan, but he wouldn’t be able to use it. That’s the rub. If it specifies you need to refinance, you may need to do so at some point whether he is on the loan or not. Ultimately, if you can’t afford the house, your option may be to sell it. It’s not a great solution, I realize. However, it may give you an option to put you in better financial footing long-term. That said, I highly suggest you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts to see what your options are before moving forward with any decision. You can give us a call at (888) 980-6716.

          Kevin Graham

  6. My spouse and I are considering divorce. My spouse is the Veteran. Both our names are on the refinanced loan. He is stating that if we divorce, he wants to sell the house because he doesn’t want his name on it (including his VA entitlement that enabled us to refinance the home). Since I earn more than twice what he does, my income was very important in being a cosigner on the refinance. He will be moving, but I will be occupying the home. Can I refuse to sell the home? What are my options? Thank you.

    1. Hi Beth:

      If you get the home in the divorce, you can do whatever you want with it. The one thing you may have to negotiate is a length of time in which you have to refinance out of the VA loan. Otherwise, he can’t buy a house with a VA loan until the property is sold or the loan is paid off. I’m assuming that’s why he wants you to sell. That’s something you can negotiate as part of the divorce agreement though.

      Kevin Graham

  7. Hi,
    I’m getting a divorce, my spouse name is not on the loan, title nor deed. I want to keep the house. How would this play out in court?

    1. Hi,
      I’m getting a divorce, my spouse name is not on the loan, title nor deed. I want to keep the house. How would this play out in court?

      1. Hi Rachel:

        That depends on if you’re in a community property state. If you’re in a community property state, it’s possible the home could come up in the divorce if you bought it during your marriage. However, if you’re not in a community property state, it’s yours.

        Kevin Graham

  8. Hello,
    My veteran husband and I are separating. I am on the deed to our home but not the mortgage. He says he cannot leave the home because he is required to stay per VA rules. Is this the case?

    1. Technically, he’s correct. This can all be negotiated as part of your divorce agreement, but if you get the home in the divorce, you have two options. He can let you assume the current loan. If he does this, he wouldn’t be able to purchase another home through the VA. The other option would be for you to get the home, but you would have to refinance after a negotiated timeframe specified in your divorce agreement. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  9. I am divorced. My ex-spouse is the Veteran. Both our names are on the loan. In the decree he signed all rights away to the home to me. I’m not in the loan modification process with my mortgage company. Will the VA allow me to do the loan modification? He did sign the loan modification papers agreeing to that loan being re-modified but that was through the mortgage company. Not sure if the VA will stop the process once it reaches them. Our 2 kids still reside with me in the home & are younger than 18 y/o.

    1. Hey Renee:

      If the mortgage company was fine with it, I can’t see the VA giving you a problem. The VA would rather have me making some payment on the house, even if it’s more than the one they were supposed to get than to have to try to take it back and sell it. If your ex-husband made the agreement with the mortgage company, it should be okay.

      Kevin Graham

  10. I am the retired member who got a VA home mortgage. I am going through a divorce and want me ex-spouse to refinance the home. I no longer reside in the home and have not been there for over 2 years. What stand does the VA have on this and can I compel my ex-spouse to refinance? Thank you

    1. Hi Michael:

      Typically, that’s a clause you would negotiate in the divorce agreement. In exchange for getting the house, your ex-spouse has X amount of time to refinance. If that clause isn’t included, I’m not sure what your legal options would be in your area. You would have to consult a lawyer for that. Thank you for your service!

      Kevin Graham

  11. I’d like to know if I am separated from my husband who served 6 yrs in the Marine Corps, can I use his VA loan benefit to purchase a home. I’m still working and can make payments. Also, credit score is good.

    1. Hi Renee:

      For you to use his VA loan, he would have to be on the loan. That would be up to him. You may have other options for other types of loans. You can look into your options to get preapproved online through Rocket Mortgage or by calling one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716.

      Kevin Graham

  12. Hello, My name is Christina Molina and I represent Kent Molina as his power of attorney…

    I am reaching out to anyone that is willing and able to help my cousin Kent… he is retired 100% disabled psychotropic affective disorder, asthma, the shakes, severe ptsd, an ankle injury… that’s all I knw off the top of my head.. I’m in the processing of retrieving his records from California.. where ever it may be.. thank you

    1. Hi Christina:

      I’m not sure what types of documents you’re looking for. If it’s for a home loan or many other types of documents, you can check on the VA eBenefits site. You would have to have some information on him in order to verify his identity on the website, but you could start there. The VA also has offices across the U.S. that you could reach out to. That should at least give you a starting point. I hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

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