NEWS | July 22, 2014

The Service Member Civil Relief Act

By 375th Air Mobility Wing Judge Advocate, Scott Air Force Base, 628th Air Base Wing and 315th Airlift Wing Judge Advcoates

Is there an upcoming deployment or Permanent Change of Station coming up in your career?

Most of us know all too well the stressors and challenges that come with relocating, and when the move is a result of a last minute tasking or assignment notification, the challenges only multiply. But thanks to the Service Member Civil Relief Act some of the fiscal challenges can be mitigated with proper education and planning.

SCRA is a federal statute containing a series of provisions that are designed (and continually amended) to protect service members while they are answering their nation's call.

A deploying member may terminate a residential lease if they are tasked to support a military operation for a period of not less than 90 days. Service members must deliver written notice to the landlord, along with a copy of their orders. Delivery must be by hand, private business carrier or mailed, return receipt requested, to the address designated by the landlord. The effective date of termination after proper notice has been given is 30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due.

If a member wishes to terminate an automobile lease, they must be deploying for a period of not less than 180 days. Notice must be given in the same manner as terminating a residential lease and the vehicle must be returned within 15 days of delivery of notice. If a member has not received his/her military orders, a signed Memorandum for Record from the member's commanding officer is sufficient. Contact your first sergeant or the legal office to obtain an MFR template for you and your commanding officer to complete.

The protections in place for a PCS are very similar and require the same notice and paperwork (military orders/signed MFR from your commanding officer).

However, to break a vehicle lease there are a few differences. 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 (OCONUS) 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.

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 Weapons Station on a walk-in basis Mondays from 8 to 11 a.m. and Fridays by appointment from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 963-5502 for all inquiries and appointments.