Here are the key reminders from their announcement.
On December 20, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that they sent joint letters to rental housing providers and mortgage servicers reminding them of servicemembers and their dependents’ rights in housing. In addition to their protections under landlord and tenant and fair housing laws, servicemembers and their dependents possess additional protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
Here’s what industry professionals should keep in mind:
- Protections apply to military tenants who reside in rental housing, including “off base”, market rate housing.
- Covered tenants could include members of the National Guard, servicemembers’ families, a roommate or non-spousal partner.
- The Department of Justice has taken the position that requiring servicemembers to repay rent concessions or discounts is an early termination fee that violates the SCRA.
- The SCRA includes rights to early termination of lease due to military orders, retirement or separation orders.
- The SCRA’s eviction protections could trigger additional requirements, such as notifying the court of the tenant’s military status.
According to these letters, the DOJ is working to ensure that the SCRA rights of servicemembers are protected, while the CFPB’ looks to help military families overcome unique financial challenges by providing educational resources, monitoring complaints and working with other agencies to solve problems faced by servicemembers. In light of this announcement, rental housing providers should review their policies to prevent further scrutiny by these federal agencies.