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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 Norfolk property owner, it’s best to learn some major disparities 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 govern the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Regardless of whether it’s negotiating with tenants who break their lease or are often absent for training, making sure the property is secure 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 safeguard active military personnel and their families from such financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) encompasses a wide range of situations, like an active member of the military who is renting a house. According to this federal law, landlords are required to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain criteria are present.

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 tough, by law, renters cannot be penalized or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease owing to transfers or other service-related conditions.

Training Absences

Active military members are frequently obliged to undergo training at various sites around the country. These trainings could be as quick as two weeks or as long as a month or more, based on which branch of the military they belong to and where they have been stationed. If a tenant indicates that they will be away for training, you need to remember 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 protracted absence, Norfolk property managers may be concerned about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to draw in numerous types of troubles, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property often to guarantee everything is clear if you are nearby. But let’s say you’re not able to do so. In this regard, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to working with a property management company such as Real Property Management Hampton Roads to secure your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law offers is the obligation to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is dwelling in the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court is obliged to grant the tenant at least 90 days to work out the problem. The SCRA doesn’t stop a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may prohibit you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

Ultimately, the SCRA authorizes active military members to ask for a stay on any civil court actions that may be launched against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law states that they may be authorized to delay that action while on active duty. Also, the regular statute of limitations does not implement while a military renter is on active duty. This can radically affect the anticipated legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s critical to keep that in mind should any argument lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants necessitates both time and knowledge of the law. For many rental property owners who are uninformed of the law, there are various ways to find themselves in legal trouble. However, engaging with Real Property Management Hampton Roads can be beneficial. Our team of Norfolk property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is knowledgeable about all related federal, state, and local laws. With our aid, you can better protect your valuable investment and eliminate legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.


Originally published on Dec 27, 2019

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