Residential Lease Termination Rights for Service Members

The life of a United States service member can oftentimes be very unpredictable. Active duty members of the armed forces in particular are essentially on-call at all times, with the potential to be ordered by the government to move with little notice.

So what is a service member supposed to do if he or she signs a residential lease, and then receives orders to move to another part of the country or deploy overseas? Do they have to continue paying rent even though they probably cannot physically continue to live in the home?

The short answer is “No if….” There are numerous statutory protections in place at both the federal and state levels to protect service members from civil liabilities so that they are not penalized simply for fulfilling their military duties, however, these protections are attached to different requirements that must also be met.

Federal law provides some protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), and the Florida statutes also do the same as well.

Along with the creation of the Florida Uniformed Servicemembers Protection Act (FUSPA), the Florida legislature detailed several different circumstances under which a service member may break his or her residential lease (there are other protections for legal obligations as well), and also created protections against the pursuit of any lawsuits or penalties by the landlord for doing so.

Most importantly, in the unfortunate circumstance where a service member is killed while serving on active duty, an adult member of his or her family may terminate the lease by providing the landlord with the aforementioned termination notice, proof the service member was on active duty, and their death certificate.

Other examples (under Florida law)f when a  service member’s residential lease may be terminated without impunity are the following:

  • They receive permanent change of station orders to move 35 miles or more from the rental unit
  • They are prematurely or involuntarily released or discharged from active duty
  • They are released from active duty for any reason after leasing the unit while on active duty; AND their last home of residence is 35 miles or more from the rental unit

Words to the wise: Hire the Laurent Law Office to deal with these matters because these regulations have multifarious limitations and specific caveats that can preclude relief for a service member without appropriate legal support.  

Further, there are several more applicable circumstances too numerous to provide here.

In any case, because of these protections the SCRA and FUSPA also protect military service members from retaliation and discrimination by landlords due to the aforementioned special legal protections termination of a lease or status as service members. Finally, if any Landlord or governing entity attempts to justify a legal action against a servicemember who has availed himself or herself of these rights there are unique defenses that are available for service members, however, this is beyond the purview of this discussion.  

Service members deserve protections from lease obligations when it comes to fulfilling their military duties. If you are a service member and you believe your landlord has broken any aspect of state or federal statutes that are meant to protect you from residential lease liabilities, please contact the Laurent Law Office today.

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Written by LaurentLawOffice


Laurent Law Offices, P.L. is committed to helping renters and landlords alike to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution to any dispute. Attorney Hegel Laurent has been a tenant for the vast majority of his life and he understands the intricacies of Landlord-Tenant law codified in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. He received his J.D. from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Law School and he is passionate about representing both those who rent property or those who own rental property.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.Click here for full disclaimer