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What Landlords Need to Know About Renters and Military Duty

United States Soldier Being Greeted by His Young Son As a New York property owner, you should be aware of several fundamental differences between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. 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. Irrespective of whether it’s dealing with tenants who break their lease or are frequently absent for training, ensuring the property‘s security, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you should understand 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 tries to protect active military personnel and their families with some financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to a variety of scenarios, such as an active member of the military who is renting a house. Under this federal law, landlords are required to permit a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain requirements are fulfilled.

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 difficult, 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.

Training Absences

Active military members are frequently obliged to attend training at various sites across the country. Contingent upon which branch of the military they belong to and where they have been stationed, these trainings can last as little as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant informs you that they will be away for training, it is vital to remember 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, New York property managers may have concerns about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses attract a wide range of problems, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property regularly to guarantee that everything is clear if you are nearby. Yet, assume that you are unable to do so. In that scenario, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to employing a property management company such as Real Property Management New York Gold to monitor your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another federal protection the law provides is the necessity to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is residing in the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court must grant the tenant at least 90 days to resolve the matter. The SCRA does not preclude a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may preclude you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

Delayed Civil Court Actions

Lastly, the SCRA authorizes active military members to request a stay on any civil court actions launched against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, they may be permitted to delay that action while on active duty, according to the law. Furthermore, the normal statute of limitations does not apply while a military renter is on active duty. This can dramatically affect the typical legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s vital to keep that in mind should any disagreement lead to a court filing.

Renting to active military tenants requires both time and an understanding of the law. For many rental property owners unfamiliar with the law, there are numerous ways to find themselves in legal trouble. However, employing Real Property Management New York Gold can be beneficial. Our team of New York property managers has experience leasing properties to military tenants and is completely aware of 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

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