August 11, 2015
By Tara Jessup
Watertown, NY – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has cautioned Watertown-area landlords of the legal protections afforded to servicemembers in the wake of the latest Fort Drum deployments. The deployment will result in 2,500 area servicemen and women being sent overseas. Attorney General Schneiderman reminded area landlords to observe the letter and spirit of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), particularly where it relates to rental property leases to servicemembers.
“Our brave men and women in uniform should not be targeted by unscrupulous landlords when they are deployed overseas and are forced to terminate a lease agreement,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The protections in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act are not optional and my office will be vigilant in shielding deploying servicemembers from those seeking to take advantage of them.”
The SCRA provides many protections. It allows servicemembers to terminate their residential leases if they are given a change of duty station, including deployments. In order to exercise the right to terminate, servicemembers must give written notice to their landlord and provide a copy of orders. Frequently official military orders are not available until close to the time of deployment. The SCRA protections are triggered by the written notice to a landlord. Servicemembers being penalized with extra fees or forfeiture of security deposits are protected by the SCRA.