Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) service members may qualify for certain protections including:

  • Termination of residential or motor vehicle leases
  • Reduced interest rate on mortgage payments and credit card debt
  • Protection from eviction if your rent is $2,400 or less
  • Protection from repossession or charges for property
  • Delay of all civil court actions
  • Reinstatement of health insurance
  • Relief from Life Insurance Premiums
  • Relief from statutes of limitations

Termination of residential leases

Servicemembers and dependents who have a residential lease may terminate that lease if it was signed prior to the member receiving orders of:

  • active duty
  • a change of duty station outside the continental United States
  • deployment for at least 180 days by notifying the lessor in writing.

The termination date for residential leases depends on the length of the lease, generally within thirty (30) days of notice. However, an additional rental payment may be due, depending on the lease and the date of the notice.

Termination of motor vehicle leases

Servicemembers and dependents who have motor vehicle leases may terminate that lease if signed prior to the member receiving orders of:

  • active duty
  • a change of duty station outside the continental United States
  • deployment for at least 180 days by notifying the lessor in writing AND delivering the vehicle to the lessor within fifteen (15) days after delivery of the written notice.

No early termination fees may be charged, but unpaid amounts (due prior to termination) and other miscellaneous charges may still be imposed.

Reduced interest rate on mortgage payments and credit card debt

The Act limits the amount of interest that may be charged to servicemembers on debts incurred prior to active duty to six percent (6%) per year during military service. The servicemember or his family must request the reduction. If the creditor can prove that the servicemember's ability to repay the debt has not been "materially affected" by active duty, he may not have to lower the interest rate. Interest that would otherwise have been charged is forgiven and creditors may not attempt to assess or collect it after the servicemember's return from duty.

Protection from eviction if your rent is $2,400 or less

Courts are able to stop an eviction for up to three months or longer if requested by the servicemember whose ability to pay rent has been materially affected by the active duty service.

Protection from repossession or charges for property paid for under an installment contract or lease

If the servicemember's ability to pay for real or personal property, including motor vehicles under an installment contract or lease, has been materially affected because of active duty service, the court can terminate the contract and require repayment of all prior installments and deposits prior to repossession, stay the proceedings until the servicemember is available, or order other relief that is fair to protect the interests of all parties.

Delay of all civil court actions, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or divorce proceedings

If the servicemember's ability to participate in a civil action or proceeding is materially affected because of active duty or deployment the servicemember may ask the court to stay the proceedings until the servicemember's ability to participate is no longer affected. The court may also stay the proceedings on its own, without being asked to.

Reinstatement of health insurance that was in effect before service commenced, but was terminated during the period of service

Active duty personnel are provided health coverage by the military and their families are eligible for coverage. After active duty, servicemembers' prior health insurer must reinstate their coverage with very limited exclusions for "preexisting conditions."

Relief from life insurance premiums

The Act guarantees that a servicemember's life insurance policy will not lapse due to non-payment of premiums during active service and for two years thereafter. The Act does not excuse payment of the premiums, however, which must be repaid within 2 years. If the policy becomes due during active duty due to the death of the servicemember, the government pays the premiums, which amount is deducted from the final settlement. Any amounts paid by the government to cover a servicemember's insurance premiums is a debt, which may be collected by the government.

Relief from statutes of limitations

If a servicemember has a legal claim, which may be filed in court, active duty status stops or "tolls" applicable statute of limitations or legal deadlines for filing the case.