The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers a host of benefits to America’s military personnel. However, many business owners — including landlords — need to be well-versed in the law. Thus, we offer this SCRA FAQ for landlords.
Failure to comply with the SCRA can lead to serious legal complications, ranging from penalties to jail time. One area of the law that most directly affects landlords is the language concerning delaying eviction for failure to pay rent.
SCRA FAQ for Landlords
Is there a limit to the amount of rent that qualifies for protections?
Yes. In 2019, the SCRA applies to any tenant whose rent is $3,851.03 per month or less. That dollar figure changes yearly with the rate of inflation and rising cost of living.
Can I serve a termination notice for the nonpayment of rent?
There is nothing in the SCRA that bars landlords from sending out a termination notice in the event that the tenant fails to pay rent. However, if the landlord files a lawsuit regarding the nonpayment, it is up to the landlord to research and inform the court as to whether the tenant is an active-duty servicemember.
It can be illegal for a landlord to evict servicemembers — or their dependents — from their homes (or even storage lockers) without a court order. Thus, it is critical to first verify military status, then follow proper protocol in the eviction lawsuit.
From there, the judge will give final say on whether the servicemember’s military status is to blame for the failed payments.
In many cases, the judge will then stay the eviction for up to three months.
Who classifies as a dependent of the servicemember?
The SCRA’s protection may extend to anyone considered a dependent. But what does that mean?
Most people know that the SCRA may protect anyone who is married to, or the child of, a servicemember. But you may not know that courts consider anyone the tenant has supported (paid more than 50 percent of that person’s cost of living) for the past 180 days a dependent as well. For further information, see Who the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Protects.
Note, however, that a dependent must ask a judge for protection under the SCRA – it is not automatic like the protections given to the servicemember.
Use the SCRA FAQ for Landlords to Protect Yourself
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to learn if your tenants are servicemembers who are entitled to SCRA protections. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service can help you to stay in compliance with this law.