ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG, COMMISSIONERS SAADI AND SEAGULL CALL ATTENTION TO SERVICEMEMBER RIGHTS DURING MILITARY CONSUMER PROTECTION MONTH
Servicemembers Sometimes Denied Protections, Forced to Fight for Rights Due to Lack of Awareness of Law
Attorney General William Tong, Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi, and Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull today marked Military Consumer Protection Month by drawing attention to key laws helping to reduce financial pressures on servicemembers while deployed. Oftentimes, servicemembers are denied these protections or must fight for their rights due to inadequate awareness and understanding of the law.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides important protections for servicemembers unable to comply with vehicle, residential and business lease terms while on active duty. Servicemembers called to duty for extended periods of time may have the ability to terminate vehicle, residential and business leases without penalty under certain circumstances. Servicemembers and their families are also entitled to seek certain court protections against eviction.
"Servicemembers called to duty cannot safely serve our country if they are worried about eviction or mounting lease payments back home. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act exists to protect servicemembers and their families, but lack of awareness and understanding are a big challenge. As part of Military Consumer Protection Month, we are spreading the word about these important protections, and stand ready to aid any servicemember in need of assistance," said Attorney General Tong.
“Our men and women in uniform sacrifice so much in service to our nation and knowing their legal rights and protections as provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is critical to their military readiness. I applaud Attorney General Tong and Commissioner Seagull for their continued work to protect against those despicable actors who try to skirt the law and take advantage of our military men and women protecting this nation day and night,” said Veterans Affairs Commissioner Saadi.
“Servicemembers and veterans deserve to do business in a marketplace that treats them fairly,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Seagull. “I am pleased to join the Attorney General and our sister agencies in helping to ensure that servicemembers know that they have protections under the law, we are here to help, and are committed to improving their experience in our state.”
RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS LEASES
The protections provided under the SCRA begin when personnel start active duty and end 30-90 days after discharge.
The servicemember may cancel any housing or business lease if:
(a) The contract was signed before beginning active duty;
(b) He or she receives a permanent change of duty station; or
(c) He or she goes on deployment lasting 90 days or more.
The servicemember must send a written Notice of Cancellation with a copy of military orders to the landlord. The lease terminates 30 days after written Notice of Cancellation is delivered and the due date for the next rental payment passes.
SCRA provides certain protections for servicemembers and dependents from eviction to promote military readiness.
If a servicemember's ability to pay rent is materially affected by military service, the court must order a stay of execution, typically lasting 90 days. If the servicemember cannot attend court because of military orders, the judge must appoint a legal representative.
Military personnel can contact their local Legal Assistance Office (https://legalassistance.law.af.mil) or consult private counsel regarding rent payment obligations in the case of an eviction. It is important to note that the court ordered automatic stay does not relieve a servicemember from rent payment obligations.
Service members who lease vehicles before being called to active duty for at least six months have the right to terminate the contract without penalties.
If the vehicle lease is signed while on active duty, the service member may terminate the contract if he/she:
(a) Receives a permanent change of duty station to outside the Continental United States;
(b) Goes on deployment for 180 days or more; or
(c) Leaves active duty, but is reactivated for a period of 180 days or more.
To terminate the lease, the service member must deliver (via certified mail-return receipt requested, by hand, or using a private delivery service) written notice of the termination along with a copy of military orders and return the leased vehicle within 15 days of delivering the written notice of termination to the lessor.