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December 03, 2020

Evictions and Distress

I am serving overseas and my wife is back home in the U.S., living in our apartment. We fell behind in our rent, and I am worried that she and our children will be evicted. What can I do?

The SCRA can protect you and your dependents from eviction by your landlord without a court order. If your landlord files an eviction with a court, you (or your spouse) should immediately notify the court of your active-duty status and request a stay of the proceeding for ninety days. A “stay of the proceeding” temporarily puts the case on hold.  The court has a number of powers in this situation, including the extension of the stay to more than ninety days (or shortening the stay), or changing the amount of rent you pay. You should note that the SCRA protection applies only if your monthly rent is less than a certain amount—otherwise, you are not protected. Talk to a military legal assistance attorney if you are worried about eviction and want to know whether the SCRA helps you.

I am renting a house and just found out that my landlord has not paid the mortgage, and the bank has foreclosed. I am worried that the bank will evict me once it takes over the house. Am I protected?

The SCRA applies to any new owner who takes over your rented home or apartment, just as it would to your former landlord. All of the protections against eviction described above apply to the new owner, but you would be wise to notify the bank and the judge presiding over the foreclosure that you as a tenant in possession have SCRA rights that should be protected in the foreclosure order. There may be other laws that protect you as well. For example, the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 prohibits a landlord from evicting you when he has been foreclosed upon. The Act also requires the bank to honor the terms of your lease with the landlord. A military legal assistance attorney can explain the terms of the law to you and advise you on your best course of action.