Service Members Protected from Eviction
October 21, 2015
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) enacted in 2003 offers certain protections to members of the armed forces and their families so that service members can focus their full attention on their military responsibilities without adverse consequences for themselves or their families. The law also helps to ease financial burdens on service members and their families. One key section of the SCRA protects service members from eviction.
A landlord may not evict a service member or dependents from a home that is used as a residence during a time of military service without a court order. If an eviction action is filed, the court is required to temporarily stay, or delay, the proceedings for up to 90 days.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate military service members about the eviction protections they are provided.
“Some service members are unfamiliar with the SCRA and these unique protections that are offered to them,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I began the Military and Veterans Initiative earlier this year to reach out to these brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us to make sure they know their rights and the many resources that are available to them.”
Attorney General Rutledge provided the following facts and tips about eviction protections in the SCRA:
- Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are protected by the SCRA. Reservists with specific activation orders are also eligible.
- In order to qualify for this eviction protection, the service member’s rent may not exceed $3,329.84 per month. This ceiling is adjusted each year to match inflation.
- Eviction protections are offered regardless of whether the lease originated before or after the service member entered military service.
- Contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office if you suspect SCRA rights were violated.
- If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the Department of Justice, which will review the matter to determine if action is appropriate.
- In emergency situations, such as pending eviction, contact the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section.
The SCRA also assists service members to terminate a lease or rental agreement without penalty. This protection applies to service members who are scheduled for deployment or re-assignment, as long as the lease began prior to active duty. In order to terminate the lease, the member must deliver written notice to the landlord with a copy of military orders. Oral notice is not sufficient.
Meanwhile, Arkansas has a law protecting all renters from excessive security deposits. Landlords who rent six or more dwellings cannot charge more than what would be two months’ rent. The deposit must also be returned within 60 days of moving, but landlords may deduct the cost of any damages or past-due rent.
Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.