A.G. Schneiderman Cautions Watertown Area Landlords About Servicemembers’ Rights In Wake Of Fort Drum Deployment

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Protects Deployed Servicemembers From Being The Target Of Penalties And Fees From Landlords

WATERTOWN – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today cautions Watertown-area landlords of the legal protections afforded to servicemembers in the wake of the latest Fort Drum deployments. The deployment will result in 2,500 area servicemen and women being deployed overseas. Attorney General Schneiderman reminds area landlords to observe the letter and spirit of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), particularly where it relates to rental property leases to servicemembers.

“Our brave men and women in uniform should not be targeted by unscrupulous landlords when they are deployed overseas and are forced to terminate a lease agreement,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The protections in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act are not optional and my office will be vigilant in shielding deploying servicemembers from those seeking to take advantage of them.”

The SCRA provides many protections, among which it allows servicemembers to terminate their residential leases if they are given a change of duty station, including deployments. In order to exercise the right to terminate, servicemembers must give written notice to their landlord and provide a copy of orders when they become available. Frequently official military orders are not available until close to the time of deployment. The Attorney General cautions landlords that if they have received written notice  in response to a notification, certification, or verification from the servicemember’s commanding officer prior to receipt of official orders, the SCRA timing protections will be considered triggered by the first written notice from the servicemembers.

Attorney General Schneiderman’s Watertown Regional Office has been alerted by area servicemembers that some landlords are attempting to delay the benefits of the SCRA by not recognizing first written notice that the affected servicemembers would be vacating rental units by the end of August. Where the soldier notified that landlord of termination in advance of August 1st in response to a notification, certification, or verification from the servicemember’s commanding officer, the SCRA demands that payment obligations cease. Furthermore, servicemembers being penalized with extra fees or forfeiture of security deposits are similarly protected by the SCRA.

Soldiers who believe they have been adversely impacted are urged to contact the Attorney General’s local office at 315-523-6080 and file a complaint.