September 1, 2016, by Jerry Nelson – On Sunday, August 14, the Las Vegas Sun reported that two housing companies had been fined for wrongfully evicting military members and their families from rental homes.
The settlement between the companies and the Department of Justice will cost Lincoln Military Property Management over a quarter-million in penalties and fines for four illegal evictions which occurred between 2008 and 2013.
State and federal law bans evictions when active-duty military can’t appear in court because of deployment or their duties.
Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to all active-duty members of the armed forces as well as (activated) National Guard, the commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Commissioned Corp of the Public Health Service.
The intent of the SCRA is to permit military travel without suffering financial repercussions at home.
Besides protecting service members by reducing rates on existing debts, special treatment for tenants is also covered.
Delaying Removal for Default
The SCRA commands the courts to delay, for a maximum of 90 days, domestic removals for failure to pay rent.
The SCRA comes into play if a spouse, kids or additional dependents live at the unit through a time of military services.
The Act’s safeguards kick in when the lease is $2,400/month or lower.
While the Act will not preclude a lessor from completing a termination note for default, the landlord is obligated to inform the courts that the lessee is an existing service member. The judge will then decide if the military person’s standing in the armed forces substantially impairs their capacity to pay. If it does, the jurist may stop the ejection up to 90-days. If the court concludes otherwise, then the lawsuit continues and could finish in a removal.
“Often,” says Nicholas Wooldridge, a noted attorney in Nevada, “the landlord just doesn’t know the law.”
The branches of the American military each have helpful websites explaining the meaning of the SCRA and Military.Com has a detailed explanation.
“Anyone that feels they are facing wrongful eviction should do some homework online or speak with an attorney experienced in illegal evictions.”
“If landlords don’t know the law – or decide to ignore it – that’s beyond forgiveness,” Wooldridge said.
Author Bio: Jerry Nelson, a Vietnam Veteran, is an American writer and photojournalist and is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the million-or-so who follow him on Twitter @Journey_America.