When something goes wrong with an active duty military tenant, it is vital that landlords understand the protections that are in place for both parties and proceed accordingly.
The military community is an attractive one for landlords – a regular influx of new potential tenants with good paying, stable jobs. Our service members and their families contribute positively to towns and neighborhoods across the country. But sometimes, property managers find themselves in a situation where eviction or pursuit of legal action is on the table.
Just Call the Command
On social media and online forums, landlords are regularly given the advice to “just call their command” when there is an issue with a military tenant.
While unit commanders have a great deal of discretion, regulation prevents them from doing anything more than counseling the service member that they must pay their debts. The exception is if there are extenuating circumstances – like a family emergency – that have created the financial hardship. In those situations, there are resources that the service member may not be aware of to help catch up.
Eviction & the SCRA
If you are facing a potential eviction situation with an active duty military tenant, you first need to acquaint yourself with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The SCRA protects service members from a number of civil actions, including evictions and debt collection. The service member is eligible for protections if they have a dependent in the home, rent is below an amount set by the SCRA annually, or their failure to pay is related to their service. Eviction is still possible, but there are additional steps necessary to comply with the SCRA.
- Verify – First, verify active duty status at https://app.servicememberscivilreliefact.com/register/.
- Check SCRA status – If the service member fits one of the above criteria, they are eligible for to up 3 months of eviction protection.
- Court notification – When seeking a termination for eviction, the court must be informed of the tenant’s status as a service member.
Don’t Forget Local Restrictions
The majority of laws regarding tenant-landlord conflict are at the state and local level. While you are following the protocol outlined by the SCRA, stick to the letter of your local regulations as well.
Both tenants and landlords are best served by avoiding the extreme of eviction, but there are times when you are left with no other recourse. At each stage, knowing exactly what steps are necessary and what protections are afforded to each party is key.
Have you taken the time to research and outline the appropriate steps for your rental property?
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