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What Landlords Need to Know About Tenants and Military Duty

United States Soldier Being Greeted by His Young SonWhenever renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, there are specific federal laws that change the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Renting to military tenants is more delicate as compared to renting to non-member tenants, this is truer when it comes to dealing with tenants who break their lease or are periodically absent for training, securing the property, and collecting late rental payments. Owners should know what the law says, along with how it may affect the tenant-landlord relationship in order to avoid violating your tenant’s rights.

Breaking the Lease

Employees of the U.S. military are also constituents of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which seeks to aid active military personnel along with their families to handle certain financial and legal obligations. The  Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), includes many situations, as well as an active member of the military who is rat the same time a lessee. Provided in this federal law, property owners are mandated to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain conditions are met.

To give you an idea, if military personnel receive orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, a discharge, or if there is a loss of life, they can legally break their lease. Whilst accepting a military tenant’s appeal to break their lease can be a burden, by law, renters cannot be penalized or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related circumstances.

Training Absences

Active members of the military are regularly demanded to attend training at locations around the country. This is based on which branch of the military the employee is working for and where they have been stationed, this training could be as short as two weeks or as long as a month or more. When tenant advises that they will be gone for training, it is important to note that even an extended absence is not grounds for eviction or other legal action. Presuming that the tenant intends to return to the property and continues to fulfill the lease terms, a landowner must also replicate the action.

Securing the Property

In the event of an extended absence, lessors may have some queries with respect to the security of their rental house. Vacant houses lend themselves to issues, starting from vandals to break-ins and who knows what. In the event that you live close by, you can always keep an eye on your property to ensure that nothing is strange. Nonetheless, in the event that you are not far away and can’t visit regularly, there are different ways that may help keep your property secured while your tenant is not there, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management First Choice to guard your property for you.

Collecting Late Rental Payments

Another protection offered by federal law is the condition to delay eviction proceedings because of the nonpayment of rent. When your tenant or any 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 is required to give the tenant at least 90 days to address the situation. The SCRA does not prevent a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may prevent you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.

In Conclusion

Entering into lease agreements with active members of the military needs both time and knowledge of the law. For most rental property investors unaware of the law, there are safeguards against legal trouble. And hiring Real Property Management First Choice can also help. Our team of Fort Smith property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and have a full understanding of all related federal, state, and local laws. With our expertise on the subject, you can better preserve your valuable investment and keep yourself and your tenant free from legal complications. Contact us today for more related info. 


We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.