For military families, finding a new place to live is the most important part of the PCS process, and rental properties are typically ideal for families that are constantly on the move.
There’s more than just looking at pictures of the new place online and doing background checks for people who are moving. A clear understanding of the terms of the current lease and any future agreements is critical to avoid any misunderstandings. A lack of knowledge about the legal and financial ramifications could prove disastrous.
SCRA’s 2003 amendments made it more likely that a service member would include a military clause in a home contract. When a PCS was imminent, a military clause was often included in the contract to ensure that the member was not compelled to sign it. Because the SCRA already covers the majority of these demands, the military clause is now used to simplify or further characterize special housing circumstances. Visit right now to learn the latest updates on the military’s readiness.
What Is the Military Civil Relief Act?
The SCRA was enacted by the federal government to protect active-duty military personnel. A section of the SCRA guarantees the right to terminate a lease agreement for certain activated National Guard and Reserve components and other military personnel.
Early termination is permitted in the following situations:
- The tenant was drafted into the military during the term of their rental agreement with the landlord.
- The soldier was required to sign a 90-day lease while serving in the military.
- A permanent transfer was ordered for the service member.
- The tenant must notify the landlord in writing of their intention to move.
- The tenant provides the landlord with a copy of their military orders.
- During the month in which notice is given, the tenant has already paid their rent for the following month.
If these conditions are met, the tenant’s lease expires 30 days after the start of the next monthly payment.
What Exactly Is a Military Clause?
Custom leases with military clauses are not covered by the SCRA. Agreements between the renter and the landlord are mutually agreed upon by both parties. As long as the SCRA remains in place, military clauses cannot override them.
The landlord’s rights and the tenant’s rights
SCRA and military provisions in rental agreements should be understood by renters to help alleviate some of the stress that comes along with relocating. The following are some things to bear in mind:
Renters Should Be Aware of This
- Many of the concerns surrounding a move can be allayed if you and your landlord are open and honest about your impending or potential PCS relocation.
- Federal law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing the SCRA. Any lease terms that go against this rule will be voided by the courts.
- For questions about the SCRA, military clauses, or renters’ rights, contact your local US Armed Forces Legal Assistance office.
- The lease can only be terminated 30 days after the first day of the following month’s payment because tenants sometimes misunderstand their financial commitments. For example, orders received on October 10th are due on November 1st. The lease expired on November 30th.
- It is recommended that a military provision be included, but SCRA conditions apply regardless of the inclusion.
- Each state decides whether the SCRA applies to a service member even if their name isn’t on the lease (just their spouse’s signature is required), but the service member is likely covered. To be eligible for an SCRA exit, the service member must have their name on the lease. Special housing-related power of attorney is needed if the servicemember’s signature or presence is unavailable.
- Even if the lease includes a military provision, SCRA protects renters from having to pay the remaining balance of the lease or a termination fee if the lease has to be terminated.
- SCRA rights can be waived by tenants. This is legal, even if it’s not beneficial to the service member, as long as it’s agreed upon by the landlord and tenant and spelled out in the rental agreement. This is a common solution when the rental market is tight and the tenant needs to move in quickly.
What Every Rental Property Owner Needs to Know
Renters who are concerned about a vacancy may be reluctant to honor a military clause request. A military clause explains to the landlord and tenant exactly how and why it should be activated in the lease agreement.
These types of waiting lists for on-base housing are nothing new in the military. It is possible for tenants to include a provision in their lease that exempts them from the terms of the agreement if they find a property on base. Certain service members may be required to live on the post when housing is made available by each branch. Landlords should be aware of this.
- Early lease termination may be difficult to handle. However, landlords are required by law to return the entire security deposit, minus any previously agreed damage assessments specified in the lease, often “normal wear and tear.” They must do this.
- Tenants will not face any penalties if they misuse the SCRA.
- The luxury of giving at least two months’ notice before moving out is common among renters. If the tenant gives 30 days’ notice in writing, the landlord cannot evict them.
- It is the landlord’s responsibility to return to the tenant any rent that has been paid in advance and is subsequently forfeited due to the termination of the tenancy for any reason.
- Anyone can join the SCRA, not just active-duty personnel. There is no legal obligation to pay rent even if a spouse’s name is listed as a tenant on the lease.