Federal law provides servicemember’s families right to terminate lease

Relief for spouse of deceased militaryAs 2018 came to a close, the President signed a bill known as the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act that provides federal rental relief to a serviceperson’s survivors.  The provision, introduced by Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and provides some relief for the spouse of a deceased service person to terminate a lease.  The text of the provision is as follows:

SEC. 301. Termination of leases of premises of deceased servicemembers who die while in military service.

Section 305(a) of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. 3955) is amended—
(1) in the subsection heading, by striking “by lessee”;
(2) in the heading for paragraph (1), by striking “In general” and inserting “Termination by lessee”; and
(3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
“(3) DEATH OF LESSEE.—The spouse of the lessee on a lease described in subsection (b)(1) may terminate the lease during the one-year period beginning on the date of the death of the lessee, if the lessee dies while in military service or while performing full-time National Guard duty, active Guard and Reserve duty, or inactive-duty training (as such terms are defined in section 101(d) of title 10, United States Code).”

So, the new law allows a spouse to terminate a lease at any time during the one-year period after the death of the serviceperson. Previously under the SCRA, a serviceperson had a right to terminate a lease after entering military service or their deployment.  The law becomes effective 90 days after its passage, meaning it will apply to tenancy situations after April 1, 2019.

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