Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
General Purpose and Protections
The purpose of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is to postpone or suspend some of the civil obligations of military personnel to allow them to give their full attention to their military duties. The SCRA covers National Guard personnel, but only if in Active Federal service (Title 10 and certain Title 32 missions).
In order to receive protection under the SCRA, the Servicemember must prove that military service has materially affected the ability to fulfill their financial obligations. Under certain circumstances, dependants are also afforded protections under the SCRA.
Credit and Loan Protection
The SCRA can limit interest rates to 6% for the duration of military service. However, this applies only to obligations existing before entry onto Active Duty. Such protections are effective at the time of entry on Active Duty or notice of activation. However, the service member must provide notice to the lender with a copy of his or her orders.
Installment Contracts & Auto Leases
Protection under the SCRA applies only to pre-service obligations of the service member. Leased automobiles and installment purchase contracts are included under this provision.
Landlord – Tenant Protection
A residential or commercial lease in the Servicemember’s name may be terminated by giving written notice to the landlord and paying the next month’s rent. Protection is also available under the Florida Statutes.
A court may stay eviction proceedings for three months for a residence occupied by a deployed Servicemember or his or her family. There are criminal sanctions for landlords who attempt “self-help” eviction.
Mortgages, Trust Deeds, Etc.
The SCRA can afford protection to an obligation secured by a mortgage or other security upon real estate or personal property, if that obligation was entered into before entry into military service. It also applies to property owned by a service member or dependent before entry into military service. The breach must occur prior to, or during, the period of such military service.
Florida law provides that any student enrolled in a public college, university or technical school will not be penalized academically or financially due to “performing military service on behalf of our country.”
These protections have been extended to SAD by Executive Order of the Governor. Students shall be permitted the option of either completing the course or courses at a later date without penalty or withdrawing from the course or courses with a full refund of fees paid. Section 1004.07, Florida Statutes.
Stay of Court Proceedings During Active Duty
Under the SCRA, a Servicemember on active-duty, or during the 90 days following REFRAD, may request a stay of court proceeding during the service member’s period of service, plus 90 days. This applies only to civil court matters, and the court is required to grant a stay for at least 90 days, if requested. The request for relief may be made at any stage of the proceedings prior to final judgment. Service members should seek assistance from the Judge Advocate section in such cases.
The “Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act” (USERRA), provides that any person absent from employment by reason of military service is entitled to reemployment rights and other employment benefits (subject to some exceptions) if:
- The person has given advance notice of such service to the employer;
- Separation from the military was under Honorable conditions; and
- The Servicemember seeks reemployment from the employer in accordance with the provisions of Federal Law.
Upon the completion of Active Duty, you are required to notify the employer of your intent to return to a position of employment.
Your time limit for reapplying for employment depends on the length of military service. You should consult with a Judge Advocate before leaving Active Duty to ensure you protect your reemployment rights by reapplying within the required time limits. For example:
- Service of 30 days or less, you must report for the first full regularly scheduled work period, after travel and 8-hours of rest.
- Service more than 30 days but less than 180 days – not later than 14 days.
- Service of more than 180 days – not later than 90 days.