As a Santa Clara property owner, it’s critical to recognize the significant variations between renting to members of the military and other types of tenants. When renting to tenants who are members of the U.S. military, there are detailed federal laws that affect the way a property owner can legally conduct business. Regardless of whether it’s handling tenants who break their lease or are frequently absent for training, ensuring the safety of the property, or collecting late rental payments. Before renting to military members, you need to learn what the law says and how it may affect the landlord/tenant relationship. This can help you avoid violating your renter’s rights.
Breaking the Lease
Members of the U.S. military are covered by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which intends to protect active military personnel and their families from some financial and legal obligations. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) includes numerous scenarios, such as an active member of the military who is renting a home. In accordance with this federal law, landlords are required to allow a tenant to break a lease without penalty if certain requirements are present.
For instance, if military personnel receive orders of transfer (deploy or induction) more than 35 miles from the property, a discharge, or a loss of life, they can legally break their lease. While honoring a military tenant’s request to break their lease can be hard, by regulation, renters can’t be punished, or their security or other deposits withheld for breaking a lease due to transfers or other service-related cases.
Active military members often have to travel across the country for training. Contingent on which branch of the military they are included in and where they have been stationed, these trainings could be as brief as two weeks or as long as a month or more. If a tenant says they will be gone for training, it is worth remembering that even an extended absence is not grounds for eviction or other legal action. As long as the tenant intends to return to the property and continues to fulfill the lease terms, a landlord must do the same.
Securing the Property
In case of a lengthy absence, Santa Clara property managers may worry about the security of their rental house. Vacant houses are a usual target of troublemakers, from vandals to break-ins and beyond. You can check on your property routinely to ensure everything is clear if you are nearby. Imagine, however, if you’re unable to do so. In this way, other options may help keep your property secure during your tenant’s absence, from security systems to hiring a property management company such as Real Property Management Silicon Valley to keep an eye on your property for you.
Collecting Late Rental Payments
Another federal protection the law offers is the necessity to delay eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent. If your tenant or one of their dependents is living in the rental house during their active military service, and the rent is $3,851.03 per month or less, then the court should offer the tenant at least 90 days to work out the issue. The SCRA does not prevent a landlord from serving an eviction notice, but it may restrict you from taking action against a servicemember tenant or their dependents.
Delayed Civil Court Actions
In the end, the SCRA permits active military members to demand a stay on any civil court actions that may be brought against them. If you have a legal dispute with your military tenant, the law suggests that they may be able to delay that action while on active duty. Furthermore, the usual statute of limitations does not implement while a military renter is on active duty. This can drastically change the assumed legal timelines for tenant/landlord disputes, so it’s necessary to keep that in mind should any conflict lead to a court filing.
Renting to active military tenants needs both time and expertise of the law. For many rental property owners unaware of the law, there are many ways to find themselves in legal trouble. Yet, working with Real Property Management Silicon Valley can be beneficial. Our team of Santa Clara property managers have experience leasing properties to military tenants and are fully aware of all related federal, state, and local laws. With our support, you can better protect your valuable investment and keep away from legal complications for you and your tenant. Contact us today for more information.
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