As a service member or direct family of a service member, moving is part of the lifestyle. Every few years, a service member on active duty can expect to be completely uprooted and sent somewhere new with their family in tow. Whether or not this is planned, there are certain steps that can be taken by the service member to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
When arriving at a new location, one of the most important things to find is appropriate housing. Housing should provide security, be located nearby important areas such as schooling, parks, walking trails, grocery centers and so on. So, how should a service member go about closing the deal on a rental at a duty station?
It is always best to be upfront with the landlord when selecting the residence. Identify any pets that are present or that you hope to have in the future. Recognize that there may be costs associated with that pet. Identify family members that will be staying at the location and list them on the contract. Ensure that they understand you are in the military and on orders to the location and request the military clause be placed into your contract.
A military clause is a formal recognition of the fact that you are in the military and identifies a clear timeline and basis for breaking the terms of your contract. It states that military PCS orders will be presented that require the departure of the service member and their family. It identifies the obligations of the landlord, and the shared requirements of the renter. It is a mutual understanding. But is it necessary?
The fact is that it is not a necessary component to a rental agreement while in the United States. Under the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a service member who receives deployment orders or PCS orders that exceed 90 days can terminate any residential lease. They must provide written notice of termination, and a copy of the orders or letter from the Commander. The termination will be effective 30 days after the next rent payment is due.
Even without a military clause, the SCRA covers the military member. This may not always be recognized or accepted by landlord, but is supported by the federal law and the service member would win in the end if they met the requirements listed previously. The landlord is required to approve the termination of rental lease and return associated deposits. They are also not allowed to require additional payments beyond the termination of lease.
The most important rule is to simply be honest. Maintain appropriate records and do not waive your rights that are federally provided. To ensure the process remains fair, the SCRA even requires that a waiver of the SCRA be written in at least size 12 font so that it cannot be hidden in an obscure part of a contract that is barely readable. So, go find the rental lease that is right for you and the family, and rest assured that the rights are on your side.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.