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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 Findlay property owner, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the fundamental 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, there are specific federal laws that affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s engaging with tenants who break their lease or are temporarily absent for training, making sure the property is protected, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you must be informed of 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 guarded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which intends to protect active military personnel and their families with certain financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) covers many circumstances, like an active member of the military who is renting a property. Under this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain requirements are adhered to.

For example, 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 challenging, by regulation, renters cannot be fined or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease owing to transfers or other service-related scenarios.

Training Absences

Active military members are often required to undergo training in different areas across the country. Depending on which branch of the military they are affiliated with and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as short as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant warns you they will be traveling for training, it is imperative to note 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 a long absence, Findlay property managers may have fears about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to attract a wide range of challenges, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property regularly to guarantee everything is clear if you are nearby. Yet, suppose you aren’t able to accomplish this. In that scenario, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Clarity Team to look after your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law offers is the duty to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is living in 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 allow the tenant at least 90 days to settle the issue. The SCRA does not restrict 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

In conclusion, the SCRA empowers active military members to request a stay on any civil court actions that may be conducted against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law states that they may be eligible to delay that action while on active duty. What’s more, the usual statute of limitations does not operate while a military renter is on active duty. This can dramatically alter the typical legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so be aware if any issues lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants necessitates both time and expertise of the law. For many rental property owners unfamiliar with the law, there are many ways to find themselves in legal trouble. But working with Real Property Management Clarity Team can be useful. Our team of Findlay property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and are aware of all applicable federal, state, and local laws. With our help, 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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