The Service Member Civil Relief Act

Men and women entering active duty in the military do not have to leave their finances in a state of chaos. The Service Member Civil Relief Act defers or suspends deployed military members’ obligation to taxes, credit card debts, housing lease and mortgage payments, etc…. 

Rent and Mortgage Deferment 

Will my lease be terminated? Will the bank cease my home for missed mortgage payments? These questions are burdensome to ponder for both the military member and the families they leave behind. However, the SCRA ensures housing for military members’ families. 

Under SCRA, landlords cannot evict active duty service members, or their dependents, from a primary residence. In addition, they cannot evict them from rental properties $2,900 per month or less due to missed payments. The rental rate requirement can change due to the inflation of housing prices. The law also lets members deployed 90 days or more to terminate a lease without repercussions. Members wanting to terminate a lease: 

  • Must give a 30-day written notice to the property owner
  • Should NOT have been on any form of active duty when originally signing the lease
  • Must have received formal notice of active duty service requirement 

In regards to home loans, the SCRA protects a service member and the individual’s spouse from debt incurred before entering military duty. They will not bear interest above 6 percent while on duty and up to one year after the member’s duty ends.

“The SCRA states that in a legal action to enforce a debt against real estate that is filed during, or within 9 months after the service member’s military service, a court may stop the proceedings for a period of time, or adjust the debt,” the Department of Housing and Urban Development writes. “In addition, the sale, foreclosure, or seizure of real estate shall not be valid if it occurs during, or within 9 months after the service member’s military service unless the creditor has obtained a court order approving the sale, foreclosure, or seizure of the real estate.” 

Protections under the SCRA are available to: 

  • Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and active service National Guard
  • Active service members of the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Active service members of the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service
  • United States citizens serving with the armed forces of a nation with which the United States is allied in the prosecution of a war or military action
  • Their spouses, according to HUD 

This federal law has been designed to aid active duty soldiers and keep their focus on their current circumstances and to reduce the stress of their civilian situation while away from home.

Matt Polsky is a blogger for VA Mortgage, the Nation’s leading provider of VA home loans.

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