Military Tenants Right to Terminate a Lease Early

Overview

military tenant lease termination

The purpose of the Servicemembers Civil Reliefe Act (SCRA) is strengthen and expedite national defense by giving servicemembers certain protections in civil actions. By providing for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect servicemembers during their military service, the SCRA enables servicemembers to focus their energy on the defense of the United States. Among other things, the SCRA allows for forbearance and reduced interest on certain obligations incurred prior to military service, and it restricts default judgments against servicemembers and rental evictions of servicemembers and all their dependents.

Under section 535 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act a military member has the right to terminate a lease, if:

  • the tenant enters military service (includes a reservist being called to active duty); 
  • or the tenant receives military orders for a PCS move, or to deploy, or as an individual in support of a military operation, with a military unit for a period of not less than 90 days. 

How to terminate leases under the SCRA

The military tenant who terminates a lease under the SCRA must do so by giving the landlord written notice of the terminate the lease, accompanied by a copy of the military tenant’s orders.

The notice must be “delivered” to the landlord by hand, private business carrier, or by U.S. mail, return receipt requested. 

Effective date of lease termination

The lease terminates “30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due and payable after the date on which the notice…is delivered.”

For example, if a tenant delivers notice to the landlord on the 20th of the May, and normally pays rent on the 1st of each month, the lease ends on the 1st of July, (the tenant must pay for June’s rent). 

What about family members or dependents who are also tenants?

In cases where both a military member and a non-military spouse or dependent are tenants (have signed the lease), the military member’s notice of termination is good for the non-military tenant as well.