By Capt. Jovan S. Legister | 21st Space Wing Staff Judge Advocate’s Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Before signing a lease or contract, ensure that you don’t unknowingly waive your rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
The SCRA is a federal law enacted in 2003 which restricts or limits actions against military personnel serving on active duty. The Act was designed to allow active duty service members, especially those who are deployed, to “devote their energy to the defense needs of the Nation.”
For many years, SCRA has been a source of protection for military members. Some of the more popular benefits for service members include early termination of residential leases after receiving orders for a permanent change of station or deployment, and early termination of automobile leases if ordered to PCS from the United States to an overseas location, or vice versa.
Although these protections have been codified in federal statute, it is possible to waive these rights when entering into leases and similar contractual agreements. There are specific requirements for the waiver to be effective, but service members should exercise caution when signing residential lease agreements to ensure they are not signing away SCRA rights.
If you sign a residential or automobile lease which includes a waiver of your SCRA rights, you could end up paying thousands of dollars over several months for an apartment or vehicle that you no longer live in or use. In such cases, your obligations under these contracts will most likely continue until the contract expires or when and if the landlord decides to release you from your obligations.
If you need assistance with this or other SCRA issues, visit the legal office during our walk-in legal assistance hour on Wednesdays from 8 to 9 a.m.