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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 Fredericksburg property owner, it’s important to know some key 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, there are exclusive federal laws that affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s dealing with tenants who break their lease or are periodically absent for training, guaranteeing the property is secure, 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 covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which seeks to protect active military personnel and their families with some financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to numerous situations, such as an active member of the military who is renting a house. Under this federal law, landlords are required to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if specific conditions are achieved.

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 burden, by law, renters cannot be charged or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related circumstances.

Training Absences

Active military members are often expected to conduct training at locations around the country. Depending on which branch of the military they belong to 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 advises you that they will be out for training, it is necessary 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 the event of an extended absence, Fredericksburg property managers may have fears about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to attract several kinds of trouble, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property regularly to confirm everything is clear if you are nearby. Yet, suppose you are not in a position to do so. Because of this, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to recruiting a property management company such as Real Property Management Regions to keep an eye on your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law grants 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 obliged to give the tenant at least 90 days to address what is going on. The SCRA doesn’t keep a landlord from serving an eviction notice, yet it might keep you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

At last, the SCRA permits 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 expresses that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. Furthermore, the usual statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can essentially change the expected legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s critical to remember that should any dispute lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants takes both time and information of the law. For many rental property owners uninformed of the law, there are numerous ways to find themselves in legal trouble. But recruiting Real Property Management Regions can help. Our team of Fredericksburg property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and completely see all related federal, state, and local laws. With our help, you can better protect your valuable investment and keep away from legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.

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.

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