Veteran father holding infant on lap while snuggling dog.

VA Loan Occupancy Requirements

Ashley Kilroy4-minute read

June 21, 2022

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VA loans are available for veterans, those currently serving in the military and eligible spouses. VA loans offer many mortgage benefits, such as low or no down payments, limited closing costs, and no private mortgage insurance requirement. While there are many more wonderful benefits, you also want to make sure you understand and meet the VA loan occupancy requirements. These requirements are in place to ensure the residence is being used for the right purpose. To verify if you qualify, here are the VA loan occupancy requirements.

Residence Occupancy Requirements

First, the property you purchase with the VA loan must be a primary residence. Secondary homes and any other investment properties don’t qualify for a VA home loan. Also, you must move into the new home within a reasonable time frame, typically within 60 days of closing on the house.

If you’re having work done to your property, that could delay your occupancy, and your occupancy requirement will deemed “delayed.” In this case, you must attest you will move in right after the work or repairs are complete.

Occupancy Requirements For Families

If you are on duty or away from your permanent location, your spouse can occupy the home. Fortunately, your spouse living in the home will satisfy the VA loan occupancy requirement.

Additionally, you can have a child or other dependent living in the home while you’re on active duty or away. However, this alone will not satisfy the occupancy requirement. To satisfy the VA occupancy rule you must have your attorney or the dependent’s legal guardian certify the occupancy requirement is met. Therefore, you nor your family has to worry about a residency being an issue while you’re on duty.

Keep in mind, though, some lenders may not allow you to use a dependent’s occupancy in order to meet the requirements.

Today's Purchase Rates

VA 30-Year Fixed *

4.875 Rate / 5.381 APR

Legal Disclosures

  • 30-year Fixed-Rate VA Loan: An interest rate of 4.875% (5.381% APR) is for a cost of 2.125 Point(s) ($4,347.77) paid at closing. On a $204,601 mortgage, you would make monthly payments of $1,082.77. Monthly payment does not include taxes and insurance premiums. The actual payment amount will be greater. Payment assumes a loan-to-value (LTV) of 76.63%. VA loans do not require PMI. The VA loan is a benefit of military service and only offered to veterans, surviving spouses and active duty military.

Assumptions

  • Listed rates are offered exclusively through Rocket Mortgage.
  • Mortgage rates could change daily.
  • Actual payments will vary based on your individual situation and current rates.
  • Some products may not be available in all states.
  • Some jumbo products may not be available to first time home buyers.
  • Lending services may not be available in all areas.
  • Some restrictions may apply.
  • Based on the purchase/refinance of a primary residence with no cash out at closing.
  • We assumed (unless otherwise noted) that: closing costs are paid out of pocket; this is your primary residence and is a single family home; debt-to-income ratio is less than 30%; and credit score is over 720; or in the case of certain Jumbo products we assume a credit score over 740; and an escrow account for the payment of taxes and insurance.
  • The lock period for your rate is 45 days.
  • If LTV > 80%, PMI will be added to your monthy mortgage payment, with the exception of Military/VA loans. Military/VA loans do not require PMI.
  • Please remember that we don’t have all your information. Therefore, the rate and payment results you see from this calculator may not reflect your actual situation. Rocket Mortgage offers a wide variety of loan options. You may still qualify for a loan even in your situation doesn’t match our assumptions. To get more accurate and personalized results, please call to talk to one of our mortgage experts. 
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VA Loan Occupancy Requirements FAQs

Is there a required time of occupancy?

There is no set required time for occupancy, but the paperwork will state that the borrower must live in the residence for at least 12 months. Special circumstances can be arranged with the VA lender.

What are the occupancy requirements if I’m retiring soon?

If you’re retiring in the next 12 months and want a loan to purchase a home, you must fulfill a few additional requirements. You must provide a copy of your application for retirement and proof of your ability to make the mortgage payments. While VA loans usually require you to move right away, retirees have a little more leniency. Usually, you can apply for an occupancy delay lasting up to 12 months. 

How can I buy a new primary residence and rent out my existing home with a VA loan?

If you have occupied your existing home for at least 12 months or you have occupied for less than 12 months but have received orders to a new duty station, you can rent out the property to a tenant even if they are not employed with the military. While the VA home loan program is for veterans and active military members, you can rent out your property secured with a VA loan. 

You may be eligible to complete an IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan) on your existing property if you have made at least 6 consecutive monthly payments on it prior to purchasing a new home. This is not a requirement to purchase another home with a VA loan, though. Once you contact your lender about purchasing a new home with your VA benefits, they’ll let you know how much entitlement you have available and if any down payment is required. 

You will have to meet the financial requirements to ensure you can afford both homes, even if you are receiving rental income from your previous property. 

Does the VA check occupancy?

VA lenders will use their best judgment to ensure the loan borrower meets the VA loan occupancy requirements. However, if there is a cause to question occupancy, it is up to the lender to determine if the VA occupancy rule is fulfilled.

Do VA loan occupancy requirements apply for refinance loans?

The VA occupancy rules do apply for certain refinance loans, but not all. A VA cash-out refinance mortgage does require a new appraisal and a credit check. Also, it requires the borrower to certify occupancy for the new loan.

A VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (or VA Streamline Refinance) only requires the borrower to certify that the home was their primary residence during the original VA mortgage. These loans are designed to help with lower interest rates, lower payments and a few other palpable pluses.

Sometimes the VA Streamline Refinance loan is used to get out of the VA occupancy rules so you can rent out the property. This isn’t for the masses but is a good alternative for residents who may want to do so.

See what you’re eligible for.

Rocket Mortgage® uses information about your income, assets and credit to show you which mortgage options make sense for you.

The Bottom Line

VA loans help eligible veterans, those currently serving in the military and spouses purchase homes. There are many benefits, but there are also a lot of stipulations to follow and facts you need to know before getting a loan. For example, you need to know all VA loan occupancy requirements, such as dates you move into your home, how long you must live there, and what happens if you get deployed or travel away from home for work. 

If you’re in the market to refinance your current loan or buy a new home, completing a mortgage preapproval is a great way to compare your options and identify the terms you qualify for. Get preapproved with Rocket Mortgage® today!

See What You Qualify For

Ashley Kilroy

Ashley Kilroy is an experienced financial writer. In addition to being a contributing writer at Rocket Homes, she writes for solo entrepreneurs as well as for Fortune 500 companies. Ashley is a finance graduate of the University of Cincinnati. When she isn’t helping people understand their finances, you may find Ashley cage diving with great whites or on safari in South Africa.