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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 Travis County property owner, it’s essential to comprehend the major variations between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, particular federal laws affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s coping with tenants who break their lease or are occasionally absent for training, ensuring the property is protected, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you must be aware of 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 protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which intends to protect active military personnel and their families from some financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) includes a wide range of situations, including an active member of the military who is renting a home. Under this federal law, landlords are required to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain criteria are achieved.

For example, 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 penalized 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 always necessitated to participate in training at numerous places all over the country. Based on which branch of the military they are a member of and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as quick as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant indicates that they will be absent for training, it is necessary to bear 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 a prolonged absence, Travis County property managers may be worried about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses attract a variety of troublemakers, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property regularly to confirm everything is clear if you are nearby. Suppose, however, that you are not in a position to do so. In such a circumstance, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Advisors to maintain surveillance on your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law offers is the necessity to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is staying 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 rectify the issue. The SCRA does not restrict a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may restrict you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

At last, the SCRA permits 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 states that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. Also, the normal statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can greatly impact the anticipated legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s vital to keep that in mind should any argument lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants involves both time and an understanding of the law. For many rental property owners uninformed of the law, there are multiple ways to find themselves in legal trouble. But employing Real Property Management Advisors can assist. Our team of Travis County property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is familiar with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. With our assistance, 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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