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What Landlords Need to Know About Renters and Military Duty

United States Soldier Being Greeted by His Young Son As a Chubbuck property owner, you should be attentive to many key differences between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, certain federal laws affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Irrespective of whether it’s engaging with tenants who break their lease or are frequently absent for training, ensuring the security of the property, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you need to know what the law says and how it may affect the landlord/tenant relationship. This can help you avoid violating your renter’s rights.

Breaking the Lease

Members of the U.S. military are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which aims to protect active military personnel and their families from some financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to several situations, such as an active member of the military who is renting a house. Under this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if particular conditions are met.

For instance, if military personnel receive orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, a discharge, or a loss of life, they can legally break their lease. While honoring a military tenant’s request to break their lease can be hard, by law, renters cannot be charged or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease because of transfers or other service-related cases.

Training Absences

Active military members are usually scheduled to join training at various sites across the country. Contingent upon which branch of the military they belong to and where they have been stationed, these trainings can last as short as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant advises you that they will be away for training, it is vital to take into account that even an extended absence is not grounds for eviction or other legal action. As long as the tenant intends to return to the property and continues to fulfill the lease terms, a landlord must do the same.

Securing the Property

In the event of an extended absence, Chubbuck property managers may be unsure about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses invite a wide range of problems, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property frequently to guarantee that everything is clear if you are nearby. Yet, assume that you are not capable of doing so. In such cases, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to contracting a property management company such as Real Property Management Pocatello to secure your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law provides is the requirement to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is residing in the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court must grant 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 preclude you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

Lastly, the SCRA allows active military members to request a stay on any civil court actions initiated against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, they may be permitted to delay that action while on active duty, according to the law. Furthermore, the normal statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can have a significant impact on the regular legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so be aware of this should any disagreement lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants demands both time and an understanding of the law. For many rental property owners new to the law, there are countless ways to find themselves in legal trouble. However, collaborating with Real Property Management Pocatello can be advantageous. Our team of Chubbuck property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is fully informed of all applicable federal, state, and local laws. With our aid, you can better protect your valuable investment and avoid legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.


Originally published on Dec 27, 2019

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