Can You Terminate Your Lease Due To Military Orders?

Blue house on top of stack of money (Photo: Flickr/Scott Lewis)
Blue house on top of stack of money (Photo: Flickr/Scott Lewis)

Can you terminate your lease if you get military orders?  The answer is usually yes.

A federal law, the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, allows you to terminate certain lease agreements based on your military service.

Real Property Leases

You may terminate a lease without issue if you lease property which is occupied, or intended to be occupied, by you or your dependents for a residential, professional, business, agricultural, or similar purpose if:

  • you enter active duty during the lease period; or
  • you execute a lease while in the military and then receive PCS orders or deploy for at least 90 days.

To terminate the lease, you must deliver written notice to the landlord at any time after call to active duty or receipt of orders, you cannot just give them oral notification. The effective date of termination is determined as follows:

  • For month to month rentals, the termination is effective 30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due after the landlord is notified. For example, if the rent is due on the first day of each month, and the landlord is notified on August 1, then the next rental payment is due and payable on September 1. Thirty days after that date would be October 1, the effective date of termination.
  • For all other leases, termination becomes effective on the last day of the month following the month the landlord is notified. For example, if the lease requires a yearly rental and proper notice of termination is given on July 20, the effective date of termination would be August 31.

You are required to pay rent for only those months before the lease is terminated. If rent has been paid in advance, the landlord must prorate and refund the unearned portion. If a security deposit was required, it must be returned to you when the lease is terminated.

Motor Vehicle Leases

If you are leasing a vehicle you can terminate it immediately if:

  • you have a lease and enter active duty or are activated for at least 180 days); or
  • you have a lease and get PCS orders OCONUS or deploy OCONUS for at least 180 days.

For more information contact your local legal office.

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