On active duty or mobilized and a landlord, bank or car dealership is coming after you?
You may be protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
or SCRA. This law may protect you on financial obligations, rent or mortgages, especially when deployed overseas.
Cave & Freeburg, LLP, can help you in cases where the SCRA is violated by a landlord, bank or creditor.
The Veterans Benefit Act of 2010 even allows you to recover damages, legal expenses and attorney’s fees if the SCRA was violated!
When does the SCRA Apply?
The SCRA was passed to protect service members from having to worry about their property and families while deployed or on a mission. The SCRA applies when military service “materially affects” the service member’s legal or financial responsibilities. For
example, if a reservist is called to active duty that may lower the reservist’s income and make it impossible to meet mortgage expenses. Or, an active duty service member is sent on an unaccompanied tour overseas and has to pay rent in two different locations.
The SCRA generally applies to reservists when they are called to active duty for mobilization or for their two week annual training.
The SCRA generally applies to members of the National Guard who are called to active duty for a period of more than 30 days in a row for a national emergency.
There are a number of steps you should take once you receive orders and while on orders.
You should also be very careful and consult with a lawyer should you get "legal" mail, dunning letters, or similar payment demands. This is especially true if you get a summons or similar document from a court telling you to be present for a hearing/trial because you are being sued on a debt or lien enforcement. You may not be able to stop a court action, but the SCRA is designed to get you a sufficient delay in any hearing so you can be present to protect your interests.
Some of the protections include:
- A limit of 6% on interest for some debts (e.g. credit cards and mortgages) during the time of service.
- If you are sued on your debt you may be able to get protection from "default" judgments if you can't get to court for a hearing.
- There some protections against foreclosure of mortgages.
- You may be able to avoid having your car repossessed while in active service.
- You may be protected against your apartment lease being terminated.
- If you have stuff or a car in storage, you may have some protections against lien enforcements.
The SCRA can also apply to your "dependents" in certain circumstances.
You will need to have evidence of your service. You can get an appropriate certificate by going to "submit a Single Record Request to obtain a report certifying Title 10 active duty status for provisions under SCRA."