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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 Providence property owner, knowing some essential variations between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants is important. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, certain federal laws influence the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s dealing with tenants who break their lease or are sometimes absent for training, ensuring the property is secure, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, it is important to 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 covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which plans to safeguard active military personnel and their families with specific financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) covers numerous circumstances, including an active member of the military who is renting a home. Under this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if specific circumstances 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 a problem, by law, renters can’t be punished, or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related conditions.

Training Absences

Active military members are often expected to go to training in different areas around the country. Contingent upon 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 up to a month or more. If a tenant tells you that they will be away for training, it is vital to keep in mind 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 case of an extended absence, Providence property managers may have worries about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to attract numerous difficult situations, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property consistently to guarantee everything is clear if you are nearby. Nevertheless, assume you are not in a position to perform the task. In that event, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to employing a property management company such as Real Property Management Providence to watch out for 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 occupying 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 give 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 prevent you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

In the end, the SCRA permits active military members to request 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 indicates that they might have the option to delay that action while on active duty. Moreover, the typical statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can greatly change the normal legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s critical to keep that in mind should any dispute lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants takes both time and awareness of the law. For many rental property owners ignorant of the law, there are multiple ways to find themselves in legal trouble. Yet, employing Real Property Management Providence can help. Our team of Providence property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and fully comprehends all related federal, state, and local laws. With our assistance, you can better protect your valuable investment and stay away from legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.


Originally published on Dec 27, 2019

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