I think most of us would agree that the last thing a person fighting overseas defending our country should have to worry about is their home being foreclosed on back home and having their family put out on the street. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development there may be some help in this area.
The “Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act” was completely re-written and re-named the “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act”. The bill was signed into law by President Bush on December 19, 2003. This is the law that now governs legal protections for the members of the United States Military.
Legal Rights and Protections
Service members on “active duty” or “active service”, or a spouse or dependant of such a service member may be entitled to certain legal protections and debt relief pursuant to the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In some cases these rights extend to Reservists and members of the National Guard when they are called to active Federal service.
What legal Protections Are Service Members Entitled to Under the SCRA?
If a debt was incurred by a servicemember or servicemember and spouse prior to entering military service the interest rate cannot exceed 6% during the time they are in military service. In the case of a mortgage, trust deed or other security obligation in the nature of a mortgage this limitation on interest rate extends to one year after military service ends.
The SCRA states that in a legal action to enforce a debt against real estate that is filed during, or within 9 months after the servicemember’s military service, the court may stop the proceedings for a period of time, or adjust the debt. Additionally, the sale, foreclosure, or seizure of real estate shall not be valid if it occurs during, or within 9 months after the servicemember’s military service unless the creditor has obtained a valid court order approving the action. There are qualifications to this and the property must have been purchased prior to the time when active duty began.
The SCRA contains many other protections for active servicemembers in addition to those pertaining to home loans. For example, in certain cases leases can be broken without penalty.
How Can a Servicemember Obtain Information About SCRA?
Servicemembers should contact their unit’s Judge Advocate or their installation’s Legal Assistance Officer with questions about SCRA, or for assistance. A military legal assistance office locator can be found at http://legalassistance.law.af.mil/content/locator.php
The U.S. Department of Defense’s information source is “Military OneSource”. A servicemember or dependant who is listed as entitled to legal protection can go to www.militaryonesource.com/scra or call 800-342-9647 for more information.
Download a copy of the entire 45 page Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) or an abbreviated 2 page copy of a SCRA_Publication detailing some of the most common forms of protection provided by the Department of Defense
PLEASE NOTE: This is just a brief overview is in no way to be construed as legal advice. Please contact the agencies above or an attorney of your choosing for legal advice concerning your situation.