As a La Verkin property owner, it’s necessary to know 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 interacting 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 have to recognize 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 guarded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which aims 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 scenarios, 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 conditions are followed.
For instance, 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 challenging, by law, renters cannot be fined or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease because of transfers or other service-related situations.
Active military members are always required to undergo training at numerous sites 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 asserts that they will be away for training, it is worth noting 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 an extended absence, La Verkin property managers may be anxious about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses attract a variety 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. Suppose, however, that you are not able to do so. In this case, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to appointing a property management company such as Real Property Management Southern Utah to keep a close eye 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 inhabiting 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 solve the problem. The SCRA does not stop a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may prohibit 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 filed against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law stipulates that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. Furthermore, the typical statute of limitations does not impose while a military renter is on active duty. This can greatly impact the expected legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s important to think about this should any argument lead to a court filing.
Renting to active military tenants requires both time and an understanding of the law. For many rental property owners who don’t know the law, there are several ways to find themselves in legal trouble. But it can help to hire Real Property Management Southern Utah. Our team of La Verkin property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and recognizes all applicable federal, state, and local laws. With our assistance, you can better protect your valuable investment and prevent legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.
Originally published on Dec 27, 2019
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.