Such costs are not considered to be reasonable and may not be reimbursed. Costs incurred by employee's sister for rent for her son at another residence are only incidental to and not directly related to the additional costs incurred. DECISION This decision is in response to a request by an authorized certifying officer as to the propriety of reimbursing Ms. Currier was authorized and commenced occupancy of temporary quarters on November 6. Currier's reclaim voucher for reimbursement of this amount was disallowed by the Bureau. Currier contends that her claim is reasonable based upon rates charged by several motels. Currier states that her sister also had to have her son vacate his room and that her sister paid rent of $210 for him to stay at another residence in the area.
Matter of: Karen S. Currier File: B-249180 Date: November 17, 1992
CIVILIAN PERSONNEL Relocation Temporary quarters Actual subsistence expenses Reimbursement Eligibility Transferred employee stayed with her sister and paid her sister temporary quarters lodging costs based on the costs of commercial facilities at her new duty station. Such costs are not considered to be reasonable and may not be reimbursed. Also, costs incurred by employee's sister for rent for her son at another residence are only incidental to and not directly related to the additional costs incurred. However, the employee has submitted written documentation showing additional costs incurred by her sister for electricity and purchases of wood for heating purposes necessitated by the presence of herself and her daughter in the home. She may be reimbursed the portion of the additional costs attributable to their presence.
DECISION This decision is in response to a request by an authorized certifying officer as to the propriety of reimbursing Ms. Karen S. Currier, an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior, for certain temporary quarters subsistence expenses incurred while staying with her sister incident to a permanent change of station from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Marsing, Idaho, in November 1991.
Ms. Currier was authorized and commenced occupancy of temporary quarters on November 6, 1991, for 60 days. She claimed reimbursement of expenses for herself through December 7 and for herself and her daughter from December 8 through January 4, 1992, incurred while staying with her sister. Ms. Currier has been reimbursed the sum of $851.86 for meals, laundry, and dry cleaning expenses incurred during the 60-day period. She also claims reimbursement of $20 per day for lodging for the first 30 days she lived with her sister and $30 per day for the second 30 days when she and her daughter resided with her sister. Ms. Currier has provided written rec costs to her sister in the amount of $1,480. Ms. Currier's reclaim voucher for reimbursement of this amount was disallowed by the Bureau.
Ms. Currier contends that her claim is reasonable based upon rates charged by several motels, inns, and a bed and breakfast house at her new duty station. These rates range from $28.85 and $32.25 to $49 to $55 for one and two persons respectively. Ms. Currier states that her sister also had to have her son vacate his room and that her sister paid rent of $210 for him to stay at another residence in the area.
Ms. Currier has also supplied receipts for the purchase of two cords of wood totaling $200, and copies of electric bills from July 9 to December 11, 1991, which show an increase in the use of electricity during the period. There is no electric bill covering the period from December 12, 1991, until January 4, 1992. Ms. Currier argues that it is absurd to believe that a person can absorb extra individuals in their home, feed them, house them, clean for them and provide bedding, towels, etc., at no cost, regardless of whether that person is a relative or a stranger.
The Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), in 41 C.F.R. Sec. 302-5.4(a) (1991), provides that reimbursement for temporary quarters occupancy shall be made only for actual expenses incurred by an employee, provided they are incident to the occupancy of temporary quarters and are reasonable in amount. The decisions of this Office have consistently held that, while reimbursement of charges for lodging and related services supplied by friends or relatives may be allowable, what is reasonable depends upon the circumstances of each case.
As to reasonableness of expenses when staying with relatives, we have held that it is not reasonable for employees to agree to pay relatives the same amounts they would have to pay for lodging in motels. 52 Comp.Gen. 78, 82 (1972). Thus, Ms. Currier's claims for daily rates based on charges imposed by area motels and inns must be denied.
However, we have recognized that, in determining what lodging expenses are reasonable, agencies may consider such factors as increases in the use of utilities, and other extra costs incurred by the relative or friend in temporarily housing the emplo on the claimant to provide sufficient information to enable the employing agency to determine the reasonableness of her claim, and it is not sufficient for the employee to show that the amount paid the relative is less than the commercial rate or the maximum rate allowable under the FTR.
The record does show that the employee's sister did incur additional expenses in accommodating the employee and her daughter in her home. Ms. Currier has submitted written documentation of an increase in her sister's electric bill for the period from November 6, to December 6, 1991.
Receipts have also been furnished for the cost of two cords of wood for $200. Ms. Currier may be reimbursed the portion of the additional costs attributable to providing electricity and heat for herself and her daughter in her sister's residence during the 60-day temporary quarters period.
In regard to the claim for the cost of lodging for her sister's son at another residence in order to make space available for Ms. Currier and her daughter, we consider such extra expense as being only incidental to and not directly related to the additional costs incurred by her sister in accommodating Ms. Currier in her home. Therefore, the $210 paid for rent for Ms. Currier's nephew may not be reimbursed.
Accordingly, Ms. Currier's reclaim voucher is for processing in accordance with the foregoing.