Air Force

July 11, 2013

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: What you need to know

Airman 1st Class Victoria Gelinas
412th Test Wing Judge Advocate Office

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects persons serving on active duty from adverse consequences to their legal rights that may result from their service.

Some SCRA protections apply to reservists and guardsmen called to serve on active duty. Other protections apply to members who have always been on active duty, and some protections also apply to military dependents.

Some SCRA provisions of interest

Rental leases: Airman are protected under SCRA when it comes to terminating a contract, such as a lease. With real estate leases, a member can terminate leases and rental agreements that the member had signed prior to or obtained during active duty. If pre-service, the member may terminate any time after entry into service. If leased during service, the member may terminate at any time after permanent change of station orders or deployment orders greater than 90 days.

Evictions: During a period of military service, a service member and his/her dependent spouse, children, and other dependents may not be evicted without a court order from their primary leased residence as long as their rent does not exceed a certain amount per month. Further, if the member meets certain qualifications, the member can request a stay of eviction.

Stay of Proceedings: Another protection under SCRA is for court and administrative proceedings. SCRA provides for a stay of at least 90 days upon a proper request from the member in civil administrative and civil matters. The member who is unable to appear in court on the date required because of active military service must request this protection in writing and include certain information with the request.

Default Judgments: A member may request the court to re-open a matter and set-aside a default judgment if the judgment was entered against the member during the member’s active duty period, or within 60 days after the member’s release from active military duty.

Tax Interest Rate: Another great thing the SCRA does for you is if you have a high interest rate that you obtained before active service; SCRA reduces that percentage down to six percent. In addition, the SCRA prohibits the lender from accelerating the principal amount owed, and forgives the excess interest payments that would have been due under the higher interest rate so that the member is not liable for the excess after he or she is released from active service.

SCRA is not an automatic process; it requires the member to request the protection in a timely manner. For certain SCRA protections, the member also may have to show that the active military service materially affects the member’s ability to pay.

A servicemember may waive any SCRA rights and protections. Waivers of certain SCRA rights or protections require a written waiver that meets the applicable requirements of the SCRA.




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