HEIDELBERG - An online listing of rental housing launched Oct.18 for U.S. Army Garrison Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg customers.

"Truthfully, this ability to check for housing online is one of the most numerous requests we've gotten," said Housing Division Chief Gary Elmore. "It will revolutionize that for people in Germany and it'll be more like the states."

The Automated Housing Referral Network assists military members and their families seeking a place to rent at future or current assignment locations.

The AHRN database contains available rental housing for temporary lodging and long-term rentals.

Only customers with .mil or .edu e-mail accounts can access the listings at www/ahrn.com.

"Customers can check availability according to size and type. "They just need to log on and request a password," said Hannelore Thomas, Housing Division special projects officer.

The Web site includes Housing Office phone numbers, information on how to apply for housing and a description of the military community in the search area.

Listings also include number of bedrooms, price and, often, interior and exterior pictures. "Before we open the listing to customers, we inspect them," Thomas said. Landlords, property owners and realtors can submit listings online.

The Web site indicates whether or not a home has been inspected. In addition, local housing officials verify the submitters.

"We make sure (landlords) aren't on a non-referral list ... and that they are good landlords," Elmore said.

Housing officials also make sure leases are viable.

"Even when you're online and find a rental you like, we try to make sure the landlord doesn't stick you with a decoration fee or rent you a place with no kitchen," Elmore said. "It's a good system, especially with the check and balances. This is not Wyoming or New York City, so you've got to be careful of German law, and of what some of the wording means.

"People can view a wide variety of places available and still have knowledge that they're protected against poor business practices," he said.

For information on the Automated Housing Referral Network, visit the Web site at www.ahrn.com.