Military Law

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Questions about Military Landlord

Military landlords face a diverse group of rules and regulations when renting or leasing to military servicemen/women. There are laws which provide relief to service people from a lease contract when called to duty. Landlords need to be aware of the laws and how they pertain to lease agreements. These laws tend to bring about questions much like the ones listed below which have been answered by Experts.

Can a landlord keep a security deposit if I gave them 30 days notice but didn't show them my military papers?

In order to be protected by the SCRA, you need to comply with the terms which are very specific in nature. It doesn't matter what agreement that you may have with your landlord, in order for the SCRA to apply, you must give proper notice with an attached copy of your orders. Without these two things, you will probably have to oblige your landlord's wishes. Visit the website of the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Maybe you can find a resolution through this office.

Will a landlord's lease trump SCRA? I allowed the tenants to write in their own military clause since I was not familiar with SCRA. It turns out that it's written more in their favor than if I put SCRA in it.

The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act (SSCRA) is a federal law which means it will govern over any state law or lease. However, if you and your tenant chose to agree on a less imposing lease agreement, the lease will override SSCRA. To protect your interests in the future, you can place a clause in your lease agreement stating that SSCRA will trump issues pertaining to PCS orders.

If a military couple gives the landlord 60 days notice and a copy of orders, are they required to pay rent on the rental home until someone rents it?

If the tenants have given a 60 day notice with the copy of their orders, they have no further requirement to the landlord. Once they the rent due and pay for one additional month, they are within their legal rights. The landlord can try to take the couple to court and sue for more, but more than likely, the judge will rule in the favor of the couple. To learn more about this topic, you can read here: Section 535 is the part that pertains to this question.

Can a landlord keep a deposit if a soldier breaks the lease due to TDY military orders?

If military orders are the reason for you breaking a lease, your landlord would need to return your deposit. You can speak with your landlord explaining that he/she cannot keep your deposit because you have orders from the military. If you cannot reach an agreement with your landlord, speak with your local JAG. They will usually send a letter to the landlord advising them that the deposit cannot be withheld.

Can a landlord refuse to acknowledge the termination of a lease and try to continue charging a tenant?

You need to provide at least a 30 day notice that you will be moving due to military orders. You can either hand the letter to your landlord or mail it, return receipt requested. After your landlord receives notice, you are required to pay the current rent and the rent for one more month. If you have done everything required on your end, the landlord should acknowledge the termination of the lease. If the landlord attempts to overcharge or retain money that rightfully belongs to you, you may need to take them to small claims court.

Many landlords are unaware of laws which pertain to military service people and their lease agreements. It is important to understand the laws for your state and how they may affect you in the future. When you have doubts about landlord rights, it's always best to speak with an Expert in Military Law who can offer legal insight to your individual situation.
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