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April 11, 2018
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Molly Blake

The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

PCS season is upon us. Huh? What’s PCS, you ask? You might know PCS if you know BAH, TDY, and what the heck a DD214 is. PCS is military speak for Permanent Change of Station. It means you’re moving. For military families, this is no big thang. We move a lot. These PCS’s do affect property managers as many milfams rent … because well, we move a lot.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to military families. 

We move a lot. We covered this, right? The military is getting a lot better at keeping families on duty stations for longer stretches but it’s not always possible. Remember that someone else is telling this nice family to move. It’s out of their hands so be sure and offer your support in what can be a stressful time. (Especially if they’re being told they have to move to a place like 29 “stumps” Palms. Yikes! 

For the most part, families find out in the spring when/if they are moving. That means summer is peak moving season so if you've got military family residents living in your HOA, you might find out soon that they are PCSing.

A few tips to keep in mind: 

Federal Law, 50 U.S.C. App. Section 535, known as the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), provides men and women in the military and their families to terminate their lease under certain circumstances.  

- The Servicemember has orders. They must provide written notice of their intent to invoke their rights under the SCRA and share a copy of said orders. A letter from a Commanding Officer can also count as written notice. 

- The orders must be for either a PCS or a deployment longer than 90 days.

- The lease termination becomes effective 30 days after the next rental payment is due. And the landlord can't penalize the Servicemember and must return all rent collected for periods after the termination date.

- The security deposit must be returned, provided there is no damage to the unit, and the tenant has paid all rents owed. 

Servicemembers are supposed to sign leases ONLY if they include a “military clause.”  If the clause isn’t included, military folks have no statutory right to break a lease. That being said, if they do receive orders to PCS and there isn't a military out clause, consider this. Just 1% of our population serves in the military. That means very few people are shouldering a very large burden. We have now been at war since October 2001! Be sure and say thank you to the Servicemember and their family. Offer to help them scare up moving boxes (if they are doing a DITY), organize a going away party or send off. Go the extra mile. We'll appreciate it, I promise.

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