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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 Jerome County property owner, it’s important to recognize the key differences between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. There are specific federal laws that influence the way a property owner can legally conduct business when renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military. 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, you must 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 tries to protect active military personnel and their families with certain financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to a variety of cases, including an active member of the military who is renting a house. Under this federal law, landlords are required to enable a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain criteria are fulfilled.

Let’s say 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 penalized or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related grounds.

Training Absences

Active military members are usually necessitated to attend training at various sites throughout the country. These trainings might take as little as two weeks or as long as a month or more, depending on which branch of the military they belong to and where they have been stationed. If a tenant informs you that they will be gone for training, it is critical to note 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 a prolonged absence, Jerome County property managers may have worried about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to invite different kinds of troubles, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property often to ensure everything is clear if you are nearby. But, suppose you are unable to do this duty. In that case, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to partnering with a property management company such as Real Property Management Magic Valley to monitor your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law provides is the ability 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 shall issue the tenant at least 90 days to fix the conflict. The SCRA does not prohibit 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

Lastly, the SCRA permits active military members to request a stay on any civil court actions filed against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law states they may be permitted to delay that action while on active duty. Also, the standard statute of limitations does not operate while a military renter is on active duty. This can have a significant impact on the typical legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so take this into account if any issues lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants needs both time and comprehension of the law. For many rental property owners who need to learn about the law, there are numerous ways to find themselves in legal trouble. Yet, working with Real Property Management Magic Valley can be effective. Our team of Jerome County property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and are well knowledgeable of all associated federal, state, and local laws. With our guidance, 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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