As a Newtown property owner, it’s important to know some key 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 affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s handling tenants who break their lease or are periodically 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 covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which intends to shield active military personnel and their families from several financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) covers numerous instances, like an active member of the military who is renting a property. By this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if specific requirements are met.
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 a burden, by law, renters cannot be fined or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease because of transfers or other service-related conditions.
Active military members are often compelled to travel across the country for training. Depending on which branch of the military they are a part of and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as quick as two weeks or as long as a month or more. Suppose a tenant advises you that they will be out for training. In that case, it is imperative 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
Newtown property managers may have concerns about the security of their rental house during a protracted absence. Vacant houses attract many kinds of problems, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property habitually to ensure everything is clear if you are nearby. Suppose, however, that you are incapable of doing so. In that instance, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to engaging with a property management company such as Real Property Management Prosperity 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 residing 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 resolve the issue. The SCRA does not preclude 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 enables active military members to demand 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 specifies that they may be entitled to delay that action while on active duty. In addition, the normal statute of limitations is not applicable while a military renter is on active duty. This can dramatically change the anticipated legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s essential to keep that in mind 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 ignorant of the law, there are various ways to find themselves in legal trouble. Hiring Real Property Management Prosperity can help, though. Our team of Newtown property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is perfectly aware of all pertinent 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
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