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What Landlords Need to Know About Tenants and Military Duty

United States Soldier Being Greeted by His Young SonIf the tenants are members of the U.S. military, there are specific federal laws that change the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Renting to military tenants is quite disparate from standard non-military tenants, notably when it comes to issues with tenants who break their lease or are periodically absent for training, securing the property, and collecting late rental payments. As a lessor, it is paramount to know what the law says, furthermore, how it may affect the tenant-landlord relationship in order to avoid violating your tenant’s rights.

Breaking the Lease

Commissioned U.S. military personnel are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which aims to help active military personnel and their families handle certain financial and legal obligations. The  Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), deals with many situations, along with an active member of the military, who is a lessee. As provided by this federal law, owners are designated to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain conditions are met.

For instance, when military personnel receives orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, a discharge, or if there is a loss of life, they can legally break their lease. While acknowledging a military tenant’s plea to break their lease can be a burden, by law, renters cannot be penalized or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related circumstances.

Training Absences

Active members of the military have attended training at locations around the country. This is determined solely on which branch of the military the person is part of to along with the locale where they have been stationed, these training could be as short as two weeks or as long as a month or more. When tenant tells you that they will be gone for training, it is important to note that even an extended absence is not grounds for eviction or other legal action. For as long as the tenant intends to return to the property and continues to fulfill the lease terms, you must do so too.

Securing the Property

In the event of an extended absence, landlords may bring out concerns as to the security of their rental house. Vacant houses become targets of trouble, from vandals to break-ins, and so on. In case you are close by, you can pay special attention to your property to ensure that nothing is wrong. Nonetheless, in the event that you are not in a position to do as such, there are various options that may help keep your property safe during your tenant’s leave, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Preferred to safeguard the place.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another protection offered by federal law is the need to delay eviction proceedings during cases of nonpayment of rent. Supposing that your tenant or one of the dependents is still using the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court is required to give the tenant at least 90 days to address the situation. The SCRA does not prevent a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may prevent you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

In Conclusion

Going into contracts with tenants who are active members of the military requires both time and knowledge of the law. Those rental property owners unaware of the law, a lot can go wrong, and you may find yourself in legal trouble. But employing Real Property Management Preferred can surely lessen the chances. Our team of Humble property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and have a full understanding of all related federal, state, and local laws. With our expertise, you can better safeguard your valuable investment and keep yourself and your tenant free from legal complications. Contact us today for more info. 

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.