No one would dispute that a soldier is deserving of respect. The soldier relinquishes his liberty to join the service and sometimes pays the ultimate sacrifice. Law makers have enacted various laws to protect service personnel in their dealings in the “civilian” world. Regardless of whether the law makers were motivated by esteem or by a desire to please voters, the result is the same. A person serving in the active military is entitled to special housing rights.
A Florida manager may not discriminate against a service-member in offering a dwelling unit for rent or in any of the terms of the rental agreement. A violation of the law could subject the manager to same penalties as for changing the locks or turning off the electric service. Even if the service member had no financial damages, he would be entitled to at least three times the monthly rental rate, plus attorney fees and court costs.
Some counties and municipalities have their own ordinances that make it unlawful to discriminate against service-members. Besides making the manager pay damages, attorney fees and costs, these local laws often authorize the local government agency to investigate and file a complaint on behalf of the service-member. The significance of that is the resident may not need to find an attorney to help him. The city or county can sue the manager on the resident’s behalf.
Early Lease Termination
A resident who is in the military service can terminate the tenancy under certain circumstances. Criteria must be met:
- The resident must give written notice 30 days prior to vacating.
- The resident must give you a copy of the military orders that are the basis for the termination.
- The resident’s circumstances must “fit” into one of the following categories:
A. The service-member is required, pursuant to a permanent change of station orders, to move 35 miles or more from the location of the rental premises;
B. The service-member is prematurely or involuntarily discharged or released from active duty or state active duty;
C. The service-member is released from active duty or state active duty after having leased the rental premises while on active duty or state active duty status and the rental premises is 35 miles or more from the service-member's home of record prior to entering active duty or state active duty;
D. After entering into a rental agreement, the service-member receives military orders requiring him or her to move into government quarters or the service-member becomes eligible to live in and opts to move into government quarters;
E. The service-member receives temporary duty orders, temporary change of station orders, or state active duty orders to an area 35 miles or more from the location of the rental premises, provided such orders are for a period exceeding 60 days; or
F. The service-member has leased the property, but prior to taking possession of the rental premises, receives a change of orders to an area that is 35 miles or more from the location of the rental premises.
Death of a Service-member.
If a service-member dies during active duty, an adult member of his immediate family may terminate the rental agreement by giving the manager a 30 day (at least) written notice of termination. The notice must be accompanied by either a copy of the military orders showing he was on active duty (or a statement signed by his commanding officer) and a copy of the service-member's death certificate.
Consequences of Early Termination
If the rental agreement is terminated under the special military statute, the resident is liable for the rent through the 30 day notice period. A pro-rated amount would be due if the thirty day notice ends in the middle of a month. The resident is not liable for any other rent or damages due to the early termination, no matter what the lease may say. The resident is not obligated to repay concessions.
If the service-member has not yet taken occupancy of the unit and gives at least 14 days notice of the termination, no damages or penalties of any kind can be assessed.
No part of the special military statute can be waived by the parties. The manager cannot have the resident sign an agreement that defeats the protections of the statute.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW