Early Lease Termination by Military Personnel


The Service-members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides a wide variety of protections for  military personnel and their dependents.  We will discuss only one of them here–early termination of a residential lease. This issue came up recently with my youngest step-daughter and one of her tenants. It made me think the problem might be widespread. Her tenant claimed the right to early lease termination because of military transfer, but refused to provide her with a copy of his orders. He said his transfer was top secret, and he was not allowed to give her a copy of his orders.

I certainly have no first hand knowledge of this, but I think that if the military is going to permanently transfer someone for a top secret mission, they would be provided with a “cover story” and some fake orders showing a transfer to Guam, for example.  The tenant’s story was simply not plausible, and my step-daughter called his bluff. It worked.

Here are the rules for this situation:

The requested early termination must be the result of military orders for a permanent change of station or deployment for a period of 90 days or more.  In other words, going on a top secret Navy Seal mission for a week or so does  not qualify.

The service-member must deliver a written notice of termination to the owner/manager, along with a copy of their military orders.

If the lease requires monthly payments, the effective date is 30 days after the first date on which the next rent payment is due. In other words, if notice is given on July 15th, then the effective date is September 1. Rent is due for August, but not for September.

A landlord who is holding prepaid rent (as opposed to a security deposit) must refund it within 30 days of lease termination. The normal Alabama law regarding security deposit refund (or accounting for deductions) within 60 days of lease termination still applies.

Tenants may waive the protections of the SCRA in a written lease.

HERE is more information on this topic, including other situations besides early lease termination.