Many large organizations now inquire as to a customer’s military status before taking any sort of disciplinary action. Penalties for violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act are in place to protect service members from harassment and discrimination by the general public. Property managers in particular should be aware of the act’s stipulations, such as the requirement that they routinely conduct background checks on any and all prospective tenants.
A landlord in Michigan was forced to petition for eviction when tenants stopped paying rent and moved out. Although, at the present moment, one of the residents was serving in the armed services.
Verifying a Soldier’s Service Records
The landlord did not follow the rules by getting a court order or checking the tenants’ military status.
The SCRA violation charge against him has been lowered to a class A misdemeanor because of his cooperation. The judge gave him a year of supervised release after serving six months in prison, with a $1,000 fine and restitution to the victim in the amount of $15,300.28.
The SCRA’s expansive interpretation lends credibility to the apparent harshness of the sentence. Enforcement of the SCRA by the Department of Justice has become more challenging in recent years. Members of the armed forces are a common target of predatory lenders.
Financial penalties imposed by the courts as part of SCRA enforcement can sometimes be an effective means of resolving disputes. This case exemplifies the courts’ willingness to uphold criminal law when it is deemed appropriate to do so.
A Reexamination of the SCRA’s Eviction Law
According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, a landlord needs a court order to evict a member of the armed forces or a family member.
- The primary abode of an active-duty service member or their family.
- The monthly payments can be lower than $3,851 if needed (as of 2019).
It is illegal to evict a tenant who claims to be a member of the armed services under the Service Members Civil Relief Act’s rental military clause unless the landlord can provide proof to the contrary (SCRA). If a servicemember’s ability to pay the agreed-upon rent is considerably impaired due to military service, a court can do one of two things.
To begin, the eviction procedure will be halted for up to three months. A judge can put off sentencing for as long as she or he thinks is fair.
A solution could be to try and improve the lease’s duration by negotiating better terms.
Without valid documentation of military duty and a court order, anybody who actively participates in or attempts to aid in the eviction or distress of property rented by a member or dependent of the armed forces is subject to sanctions, jail time, or both.
Verify Your Military Service
The SCRA’s safeguards against eviction for servicemembers are taken very seriously by the judicial system. Landlords with military tenants may find the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service useful. If a dispute arises over whether or not you actually placed an order, you can use the paperwork provided by this service, which will only set you back a few dollars and a few minutes of your time, in court.