Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

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Justice Department Announces Settlement of Its First Landlord-Tenant Case under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
 
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced last week that it had reached a settlement with a Virginia landlord to resolve allegations that she violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The lawsuit alleged that the landlord failed to return prepaid rent and security deposits to a tenant who had terminated her lease early in order to comply with military orders to relocate from to Georgia.
 
The SCRA provides certain protections to active duty servicemembers who must terminate residential leases to comply with military orders for a permanent change of station or for deployment. The complaint, which was filed with the settlement, represents the first lawsuit involving a landlord-tenant matter brought by the Justice Department under the SCRA. Under the terms of the settlement, which must be approved in federal court in Virginia, the landlord must pay her former tenant a total of $5,600 in damages and is enjoined from engaging in future violations of the SCRA.
 
"It is because of our men and women in uniform that we, as a nation, are able to enjoy great personal freedoms," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "It is therefore our duty, and our privilege, to protect the rights of our servicemembers, as they protect us."
 
The tenant in this lawsuit, Colonel Debra Bean, is a highly decorated member of the armed forces. Colonel Bean currently serves as Vice Commander for the 78th Air Base Wing at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
 
The Justice Department’s investigation of this matter originated with a referral to the Civil Rights Division from the U.S. Air Force. The Civil Rights Division received enforcement authority under the SCRA in 2006, and has since reviewed numerous allegations of SCRA violations and resolved investigations in the following areas without the need for litigation: the charging of excess interest over the six percent interest rate cap; the repossession of vehicles without court orders; and the foreclosure on home mortgage loans without court orders.
 
Servicemembers and their dependents who believe that their SCRA rights have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office. Office locations may be found at http://legalassistance.law.af.mil/content/locator.php. Additional information on the Justice Department’s enforcement of the SCRA and other laws protecting servicemembers is available at www.servicemembers.gov.
 
 
 
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What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”)?
 
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA), is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.
 
What can I do if I am a servicemember whose rights under the SCRA may have been violated?
 
You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locator for each branch of the armed forces.
 
How can I seek representation from the Department of Justice on my SCRA claim?
 
In order to have your SCRA case reviewed by the Department of Justice, you must first seek the assistance of your military legal assistance office. If that office cannot resolve the complaint, it may choose to forward the complaint to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice then will review the matter to determine whether Department of Justice action is appropriate.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Documentation
 
 
Download the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Guide by the Legal Assistance Branch of the Administrative and Civil Law Department of The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center & School, U.S. Army.