For military renters and their landlords, ending a lease agreement isn’t always as easy as providing notice and moving on. There are legal obligations for both parties, and if you’re an active duty military member who has to move out of a rented property, it’s important that you respect the requirements of your lease agreement. Your landlord will also need to respect the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which protects you against any penalties for breaking a lease due to PCS orders or deployment.
Terminating a Lease Early for Military Renters
Early termination of a lease agreement is permitted under these conditions:
- The tenant entered into military service during the lease or started a lease during military service.
- The tenant receives orders to deploy for at least 90 days.
- The tenant receives Permanent Change of Station orders.
Tenants who qualify under one of those bullet points will have to provide written notice to their landlord that they have to move. With the notice, include a copy of official military orders to document the reason for breaking the lease early.
Rent Payments and Penalties
Military tenants who have to leave their home will need to pay rent in the month that the notice is given and for the following month as well. Once this has happened, the lease will terminate 30 days after the next rental payment due date.
This can get confusing, so here’s an example:
If orders arrive December 10, then full payment is due January 1. The lease legally ends as of January 31. The lease is only terminated 30 days after the first day of the next month’s payment.
Landlords who rent out properties in San Diego often include language and instructions in their lease agreements that reflect the potential disruption of the lease due to an active military member’s orders to leave.
Security Deposit Returns
Most landlords early lease breaks inconvenient and even expensive, due to the unexpected vacancy time. However, it’s an expected risk that can be managed well with a good property manager in place.
The security deposit also needs to be managed.
By law, landlords must return a full security deposit minus any damage that exceeds normal wear and tear. Tenants cannot be penalized financially for leaving the home early and utilizing their rights under SCRA when deployment orders come in.
This can get somewhat complicated, especially if it’s new to you. We work with members of the military all the time. We rent them homes as tenants and we also rent out their properties when they live out of state or even out of the country. We understand the unique situation of military members, and we respect the flexibility that’s required.
If you’d like some help managing this process, please contact us at Chase Pacific Property Management & Real Estate Services. We’re here to serve as your San Diego property management resource.