Signing a lease or a rental agreement typically means you’re committing yourself to a house for a non-negotiable amount of time.
Deciding to leave before the lease expires tends to trigger a financial penalty, and sometimes it’s a steep one.
So what happens when you’re in the military and a PCS or deployment calls you away?
Perhaps you can get out of the agreement, but can your spouse? The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides help for service members who need to break a lease, but cases are typically settled on an individual basis.
That means you may not get out of your house fine-free.
So what can you do? Insure yourself. Before you sign the lease, be sure to put in a specific and succinct military clause.
What is a Military Clause?
A military clause is made to allow active service members and their families to terminate a lease prematurely, given a good reason.
Reasons may include a PCS or a long-term deployment where a spouse wants to return home. It may also include a discharge from the military.
Sometimes, a landlord will allow lease termination when military housing is offered to a veteran, but it isn’t a popular condition.
When to Sign a Military Clause
Write in the clause before you sign your lease. If you enlist in the military after you sign a lease, submit the clause to your landlord as soon as you’re enlisted.
What to Include
Because there have been cases where a spouse gets stuck with a lease, don’t just include the service member’s name in the clause. Include all parties who will be affected by having a change in location.
Have specified terms of termination as well as how far in advance notice must be given.
Typically lessees will give written notice 30 days in advance. You can search online examples of military clause agreements and model yours after the one that best fits your needs.