February 25, 2016

Notice to landlords covered under SCRA

56th Fighter Wing Legal

It is important for military members to understand the appropriate process to provide notice to a landlord under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act. The process is explained below; however, the legal office is here to assist as well.

Some landlords do not understand the definition of permanent change of station as contained in the SCRA. The statute does not define the term. The Joint Travel Regulations do, however, define PCS. The definition is too lengthy to include here.

The issue of what PCS means has arisen in federal court. In United States v. Empirian Property Management, Inc., (a 2012 case from the District of Nebraska) Empirian was forbidden from refusing, in violation of SCRA, to terminate a service member’s residential lease after receiving a written notice of lease termination and a copy of that service member’s military orders for a PCS, including PCS orders discharging, releasing, or separating that service member from military service under honorable conditions; a copy of that service member’s military orders in support of a military operation lasting at least 90 days; or a copy of orders showing that an individual is entering military service.

The effective date of termination for month-to-month rentals is 30 days after the next rental payment is due. The effective date of termination for all other leases is the last day of the month following the month notice of termination was delivered. Written notice and a copy of the military orders will effectively terminate the lease. The written notice may be hand delivered, sent by U.S. mail (preferably certified), or sent through a private carrier, such as FedEx or UPS. The notice may be as simple as “I, [state your name and rental address], hereby notify [state landlord/apartment complex/property manager name] that I am terminating my lease in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Enclosed please find a copy of my military orders for a permanent change of station. I intend to vacate the premises on [date].”

Be aware a service member can waive his or her rights under SCRA in a lease. The legal office is willing to review leases for service members prior to signing the document. The legal office in fact will review a variety of contracts prior to or after a service member signs the document.

Members may visit the legal office for legal assistance as a walk-in 3:30 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Same-day appointments can be scheduled at 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and active-duty members may call for forecasted appointments. For more information, call 623-856-6901.

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