In 2003, Congress passed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The SCRA allows Soldiers to get out of phone service agreements, and car and home leases without any penalty when they first join the military and whenever they have a permanent change of station, or deploy.
The SCRA’s lease-termination rules are pretty simple. Whenever Soldiers first join the military or come onto orders, they can get out of most car or home leases that preexisted their enlistment, commissioning, or mobilization. In order to escape a car lease, active duty orders must extend for a minimum of 180 days. Soldiers may also get out of most leases when they PCS or deploy as long as the leases were executed after they joined the military and, in the case of deployment, they meet the proper timing thresholds. To terminate a home lease, Soldiers must deploy for at least 90 days. To terminate a car lease, Soldiers must deploy for no less than 180 days. Furthermore, in order for the SCRA to apply to a car lease under the PCS rule, the change in duty station must be from the continental United States, to outside the continental U.S. (CONUS to OCONUS).
As far as cell phone contracts go, the rules are almost exactly the same. Whenever a Soldier receives orders to either deploy outside of the U.S., for more than 90 days or permanently change duty station within the U.S., a Soldier may terminate a cell phone contract as long as the ability to satisfy the contract or to utilize the service will be materially affected by such deployment or permanent change. In other words, if service in the Army makes the use of your cell phone pointless or overly burdensome, you are allowed to cancel it.
If you are interested in terminating a cell phone agreement, or car or home lease, and you think you qualify, stop by the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office to make an appointment. We are open from 8:30 a.m., to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and ready to assist you.
The termination process requires a copy of your orders, a form letter, and delivery of notification to the party holding your lease or contract. If you paid any rent in advance, let us know and we will assist you with getting that back under the SCRA as well.