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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 Mountain Green property owner, you should be aware of 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, various federal laws affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s engaging with tenants who break their lease or are periodically absent for training, making sure the property is free from trouble or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you should 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 safeguarded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which attempts to protect active military personnel and their families from several financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) addresses a wide range of instances, like an active member of the military who is renting a house. According to this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if specific conditions are satisfied.

As an illustration, 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 complicated, by law, renters cannot be fined or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related situations.

Training Absences

Active military members are particularly needed to move around the country for training. Depending on which branch of the military they are in and where they have been stationed, these trainings can last as little as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant advises you that they will be absent for training, you need 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

Mountain Green property managers may be concerned about the security of their rental house during an extended absence. Vacant houses attract several kinds of trouble, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property habitually to see that everything is clear if you are nearby. Assume, however, that you aren’t able to do so. In such cases, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to consulting a property management company such as Real Property Management Northern Utah to watch over your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law provides is the requirement 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 must allow the tenant at least 90 days to remedy the matter. The SCRA does not restrict 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

Ultimately, the SCRA allows active military members to demand a stay on any civil court actions that may be taken against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law dictates that they may be allowed to delay that action while on active duty. In addition, the typical statute of limitations is not valid while a military renter is on active duty. This can dramatically change the expected legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so pay attention to this should any dispute lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants requires both time and expertise of the law. For many rental property owners unfamiliar with the regulation, there are various ways to find themselves in legal trouble. Working with Real Property Management Northern Utah can be beneficial, though. Our team of Mountain Green property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is completely aware of all pertinent federal, state, and local laws. With our assistance, 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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