JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., –
Be careful before adding a friend or family member to your lease agreement.
Although the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act affords certain protections to military members and military dependents, those protections do not extend to non-military members.
Most service members are aware that that if they deploy, make a permanent change of station, separate or retire, they are permitted to terminate their residential or automobile lease if certain requirements are met. For example, for residential leases, the member must enter the lease prior to receiving orders, the orders must be for a period of not less than 90 days, and the landlord must receive written notice along with a copy of the orders or a letter from the commander when orders are not available.
Active-duty members may terminate their automobile lease if, after they entered the lease, they received military orders for a change of permanent station from the continental United States to a location outside the continental United States or a PCS from an OCONUS state to any location outside of that state. Activated reservists and National Guardsmen may terminate automobile leases if the lease was entered into prior to being activated and the orders are for at least 180 continuous days.
When the proper procedural requirements are met, the military member and the member's dependents are permitted to terminate the lease under SCRA. SCRA protections are not afforded to non-military members who are on the lease. Therefore, if you sign a lease with a non-military friend or family member who is not a dependent, that person will be bound by the terms of the lease which may include early termination fees as well as the monthly rent that is due until the unit is rented to someone else.
This article is not intended to replace seeking legal advice from an attorney. Legal assistance is provided at the Air Base on Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. for military in uniform and from 1 to 3 p.m. for everyone else. Legal Assistance is available at the Naval Weapons Station on a walk-in basis Mondays from 8 to 11 a.m. and on Fridays by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 963-5502 for all inquiries and appointments.