The Service Members Relief Act is meant to protect service members from
certain obligations while on active duty. The ultimate object of the act
is to allow service members to focus their energy purely on the defense
of the United States by relieving their other concerns. In dealing with
active-duty service members, Homeowner Associations should be aware of
the following protections which are granted to active-duty military members.
Default Judgments – A party seeking a default judgment must declare, under penalty
of perjury, that none of the defendants named in the action are active
military entitled to the benefits of the Service Members Relief Act. A
party’s military status can be verified by visiting the
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service.
Repossession of Property – If an active-duty service member breached a contract or failed
to make payments, their property cannot be repossessed without a court order.
Termination of Lease Agreements – A service member can also terminate their residential lease agreement
if called into service. To do so, they must submit a copy of their military
orders with a written notice of termination.
Eviction – A service member cannot be evicted from their housing due to nonpayment
of rent without a court order no matter the terms of the rental agreement
or local laws. This condition is exempted if the rent owed exceeds a certain
annually adjusted amount. If a service member’s ability to pay rent
is materially affected by their service, the court must grant them either
a 90-day delay in eviction proceedings or adjust obligations under the
lease upon demand.
Just recently, two companies that manage military housing in the San Diego
and Orange counties were fined more than half a million dollars for illegally
evicting active duty service members and their families over unpaid rent.
The law does not allow companies to evict active-duty service members
if they cannot appear in court due to military duties.
Thank you to all who have served our country, and Happy Veteran’s Day from Silldorf Law!