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Service members Civil Relief Act 2003

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA), is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.

    This law provides solider relief realted to certain housing concerns:

  • Delay of all legal civil actions during time of war
  • Requiring court action before servicemember or family can be evicted from a rental property if the rent is less than $2400 - The act prohibits evictions for nonpayment of rent, except by court order, from premises rented by a serviceperson, if (1) the premises are occupied primarily as a residence by the servicemember, his spouse or children, or other dependents; (2) the landlord is attempting eviction when the serviceperson is in or has received a call to active duty service; and (3) the monthly rent is below $2,465, as of 2004. (The act increases the rental limit annually based on housing price adjustments.)
  •  Termination of pre-service residential lease, or termination of lease in the event of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or deployment longer than 90 days - The act allows servicemembers to unilaterally terminate pre-service leases of premises occupied by them or their dependents for residential, professional, business, agricultural, or similar uses. It also allows termination of leases by active-duty servicemembers who subsequently receive orders for a permanent change of station or deployment for a period of 90 days or more. The servicemember may break the lease by giving notice at least 30 days before the next payment (50 USC App. ยง 535).
  •  Servicemenbers may break a pre-service lease without penalty when they join the service
  • Military clauses are not longer required into residential leases due to the fact that this provision is now covered under current law
  • Provisions apply to Guard and Reserve but the Guard must be activated for a minimum of 30 days to be eligible. The law does not state that they must be depolyed.

You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locator for each branch of the armed forces.

In order to have your SCRA case reviewed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), you must first seek the assistance of your military legal assistance office. If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the DOJ. The DOJ then will review the matter to determine whether DOJ action is appropriate.