As a Semmes property owner, it is advisable to identify some critical 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 impact the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s handling tenants who break their lease or are sometimes absent for training, ensuring the property is protected, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you should understand 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 seeks to guard active military personnel and their families against several financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) supports a lot of situations, like an active member of the military who is renting a residence. Under this federal law, landlords are required to let a tenant break a lease without penalty if certain requirements are provided.
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 hard, by law, renters cannot be punished or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease because of transfers or other service-related conditions.
Active military members often have to go training in different parts of the country. Depending on which branch of the military they belong to and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as quick as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant tells you that they’ll be gone for training, it is vital to know 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 lengthy absence, Semmes property managers may have worries about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to magnetize many kinds of trouble, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property often to make sure everything is clear if you are nearby. However, let’s say you are not in a position to perform that task. In that case, there may be other options to keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to acquiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Azalea City to constantly check your property for you.
Collecting Late Rental Payments
Another federal protection the law offers 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 should give the tenant at least 90 days to solve the issue. The SCRA doesn’t stop a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may stop you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.
Delayed Civil Court Actions
In conclusion, the SCRA enables active military members to ask for a stay on any civil court actions that may be brought against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law says that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. In addition, the regular statute of limitations does not pertain while a military renter is on active duty. This can dramatically change the expected legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s critical to keep that in mind if your conflicts lead to a court filing.
Renting to active military tenants takes both time and knowledge of the law. For many rental property owners unaware of the law, there are many ways to find themselves in legal trouble. But hiring Real Property Management Azalea City can help. Our team of Semmes property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and fully understand all related 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
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.