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Military Lease Agreements

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA

The city of San Diego has always had a strong military presence, and here at www.SDPManagement.com we are very thankful for the men and women of the armed forces who brave their lives each and every day to protect our country and freedoms. The military is a strong and considerable part of our local economy and we take pride in marketing our rental properties to active and retired military personnel. In doing so we also understand that “Service Members” of the military and their dependents are provided further protections under Federal law regarding tenancy rights.

Under Federal law, a “Service Member” is classified as:

  • A member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard on active duty;  or
  • A member of the National Guard under a call to active service authorized by the President or the Secretary of Defense for a period of more than 30 consecutive days under section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, to respond to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by Federal funds; or
  • A member of the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service on active service; or commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on active service;

The Federal Service Members Civil Relief Act is one of the protections afforded to service members. It applies to any service member who is on active duty or active service; or during any period when the service member is absent from duty because of sickness, wounds, leave, or other lawful cause. It allows service members to terminate lease agreements under certain situations without recourse from the landlord. There are a few situations that allow for this, most notable would be if the tenant is in the military when the lease is signed and then after the lease is signed the tenant receives “military orders” for a permanent change of station or, if he or she receives “military orders” to deploy for at least 90 days. In this case the tenant must provide written notice of termination, and the new termination date must be at least 30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due. (For example, if Resident served the notice on September 15th, Resident’s tenancy would terminate on October 30.) Resident must provide owner with proof to establish that Resident qualifies for this limited exception. Proof may consist of any official military orders, or any notification, certification, or verification from the service member’s commanding officer, regarding the service member’s current or future military duty status. Military permission for base housing does not constitute a permanent change-of-station order.

It has been our experience that military personnel make excellent tenants and it’s important to understand the federal and local laws protecting them and their dependants. Any landlord who interferes with the termination of the lease or uses the security deposit for rent owed after the lease termination date is in violation of the law and committing a misdemeanor. Here in California there are additional laws that coincide, make sure your check your local tenancy laws.

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