When a member of the armed forces signs a residential lease, they can include a “military clause” that allows them to terminate the lease and receive a full refund of their security deposit if they are called to active duty or must relocate for a service-related reason. Active duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel are the only people who can use it.

When a family member is called to active duty, they no longer have to worry about being separated from their loved ones thanks to this provision. Similarly, it ensures that military personnel’s financial security is protected by protecting their deposits from being withdrawn if they are given instructions.

What a Military Clause Is and How It Works

Members of the United States Armed Forces (including the Reserves and National Guard) who are actively serving their country may be eligible for a military clause. Leasing agreements in the neighborhoods close to military bases sometimes include this provision, while it is not required. Landlords can fill fewer vacant units by catering to military tenants, but doing so may put them at risk financially if the tenants later violate the contract.

A permanent change of station qualifies as a qualifying event for a military member to invoke a military clause. If an active-duty service member wants to get out of a lease early, they’ll need to provide their landlord with a copy of their orders. A documented and signed notice of intent to quit the property, including the service member’s and their commanding officer’s current contact information, will also be required.

A request for the refund of any security deposits and a definitive move-out date should be included in the letter. Make and maintain copies before mailing the originals through Certified Mail with a request for a signed delivery receipt, as you should with any important document of this kind.

Lease termination occurs on the last day of the month following the month in which the Landlord got a copy of the orders. If the tenant provided notice to the landlord in January, the lease would end on the final day of February. Rent payments would be extended through February 28th.

SCRA and the Military Clause

Comparable provisions in the Servicemembers Civil Service Relief Act inspired the military clause (SCRA). The act, which was enacted in 1940, is a federal statute that safeguards service members against financial abuse and property loss. Many consequences that can befall transitioning military members are shielded by the SCRA. These include vehicle repossession, storage facility loss, foreclosure, outstanding court proceedings, credit card debt, and more. Both PCS moves and deployments lasting more than 90 days are covered under the SCRA.

Consultation with the local office of a military legal aid program is recommended if a service member is unable to break a lease or if the landlord refuses to comply with the SCRA. The Department of Defense has a website where you may learn about the various office locations.