As a Keller property owner, knowing some major distinctions between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants is critical. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, certain federal laws govern the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Whether it’s interacting with tenants who break their lease or are sometimes absent for training, ensuring the property is safeguarded, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you must know 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 shielded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which plans to safeguard active military personnel and their families with specific financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) covers numerous circumstances, such as an active member of the military who is renting a property. Under this federal law, landlords are required to authorize a tenant to break a lease without penalty if specific terms are met.
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 regulation, renters can’t be fined, or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related issues.
Active military members are frequently asked to travel across the country for training. Contingent upon which branch of the military they are associated with and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as short as two weeks or up to a month or more. If a tenant notifies you that they will be off for training, it’s 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 case of an extended absence, Keller property managers may worry about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses tend to attract several problematic circumstances, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property consistently to ensure everything is clear if you are nearby. Nevertheless, assume you are not in a position to do so. For this reason, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to collaborating with a property management company such as Real Property Management Meridian to watch out for your property for you.
Collecting Late Rental Payments
Another federal protection the law offers is the requirement to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is staying in the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court must give the tenant at least 90 days to negotiate a settlement. The SCRA does not prevent 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
In the end, the SCRA empowers active military members to request a stay on any civil court actions that may be made against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law specifies that they might have the option to delay that action while on active duty. In addition, the traditional statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can significantly affect the typical legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so consider this if any issues lead to a court filing.
Renting to active military tenants entails both time and awareness of the law. For many rental property owners ignorant of the law, there are numerous things to find themselves in legal trouble. Yet, partnering with Real Property Management Meridian can assist. Our team of Keller property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is well-informed in all related federal, state, and local laws. With our support, you can better protect your valuable investment and avoid legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.
Originally published on Dec 27, 2019
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