The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) gives military members legal protections when faced with foreclosure.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “The SCRA, enacted in 2003 and amended several times since then, revised and expanded the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA), a law designed to ease financial burdens on service members during periods of military service. The SCRA is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, evictions, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.”
The SCRA covers all active duty service members, reservists and the members of the National Guard while on active duty. The protection starts on the date of entering active duty and generally ends within 30 to 90 days after discharge.
WHAT DOES THE SCRA COVER?
The SCRA can delay or suspend financial or civil obligations to prevent service members from being disadvantaged while on active duty and on assignment.
Protections Provided by the SCRA
- Preventing a landlord from evicting a tenant unless the rent is higher than $3,451.20 per month, though this amount changes every year.
- Suspending foreclosures without a court order
- Prohibiting a vehicle from being repossessed without a court order if a deposit has been made, or at least one payment was made before leaving on duty.
- Attending court for civil proceedings, including divorce and child support hearings
- Keeping the owner of a self-storage facility from selling a service members belongings for overdue rent without a court order
Benefits Offered by the SCRA
- Allowing service members to terminate their current cell phone contract if they relocate for at least 90 days to a location that doesn’t have coverage under their cell phone provider
- Allowing service members to end a vehicle lease signed before joining if they are mobilized, PCS OCONUS, or deploy OCONUS for at least 180 days
- Allowing service members to end a housing lease without penalty if deployed for 90 days or more
- Limiting interest on all loans taken out before joining the military to 6 percent., including auto loans, mortgages, student loans, credit cards, etc.
Using any of your SCRA rights and delay payments won’t reflect on a service member credit report
The SCRA also affords service members rights regarding property taxes, federal taxes, life insurance, and other financial or legal penalties or proceedings.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locator for each branch of the armed forces.
In order to have your SCRA case reviewed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), you must first seek the assistance of your military legal assistance office. If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the DOJ. The DOJ then will review the matter to determine whether DOJ action is appropriate.”