What to Know When Renting to Military Tenants | Colorado Springs Property Management

Updated: Mar 31

Renting a property to active duty service members and their families is something we have a lot of experience with at Empower Realty. Many of the homes we manage are actually owned by military members.

Members of the military tend to be great tenants. They’re reliable and hardworking. They also have stable income and they believe in accountability and responsibility. There are rarely disputes and conflicts with these tenants, and you can expect a pleasant and successful rental experience when you’re renting to a member of the armed services.

Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas are extremely military-friendly, thanks to the five military institutions that are around here. We are home to the United States Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Stations Fort Carson Army Post, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base.

In this area, the military community has a $12 billion annual impact on the regional economy. These military institutions employ more than 100,000 people, and the average salary for these employees is more than $52,000.

If you’re renting property to military families, you know that they generally make excellent tenants. Usually, you’ll work with the military spouse when you’re helping to get them moved in and settled. Today, we’re talking about some of the things you need to know when your tenants are active duty military members and their families.

Get to Know the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The SCRA is a federal law that protects the civil interests of members of the U.S. uniformed services while they are on active duty. Failure to comply with this law will typically lead to the payment of expensive fees, and in rare cases there can also be criminal penalties. As a landlord, you must understand what this law is and how it applies to your tenants.

As a rental property owner, the most relevant parts of this law pertain to eviction protection and the special right that they have to cancel leases in certain situations.

  • Eviction Protection

Landlords cannot evict an active duty military member or their dependents without a court order. There are exceptions for certain rental amounts, but in general you’ll need to get special permission to evict a military tenant for nonpayment of rent.

This does not mean that you can never evict a tenant who happens to be in the military. There is still a process in place for you if rent isn’t paid or a lease violation is detected and not cured. Your first step, however, should be working towards a resolution outside of court. This will save you and your tenant a lot of time and frustration.

If you do find yourself with no other choice but to evict, your first step will be simple. Complete a military status affidavit and bring it to court. If you’re not familiar with this affidavit, you can talk to a Colorado Springs property manager or you can get help from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service.

As soon as you have filed this application for eviction with the court, you will have to wait for the court to initiate contact with your tenant. If the tenant asks for a 90 day stay of proceedings, or if the court determines on its own motion that such a stay is appropriate, you will have to wait 90 days before you can move forward with that eviction.

Courts can also extend the stay beyond those 90 days if it is determined that your tenant’s duty requires it. There have been cases where the courts grant a landlord monetary relief if eviction seems impossible. Once the stay period has come and gone, you will have the right to evict your tenant for nonpayment of rent. It’s difficult to wait out this period, which is much longer than the amount of time it takes to evict a civilian. However, this part of the protection that military tenants are entitled to.

  • Lease Agreements

Military tenants also have the right to cancel their lease in certain situations. Similar to with the eviction protections, the ability to be flexible with lease agreement end dates applies not only to the military member but also to their dependents.

There are two main situations in which this applies.

First, your military tenant may terminate their lease upon entry into military service. So if you’ve been renting to a tenant who isn’t part of the military but then that tenant decides to join the armed services, he or she can terminate their lease agreement. This flexibility is important because those new servicemembers will likely be shipping off to basic training and accepting their first assignments fairly soon after enlisting.

Second, a military tenant who signs a lease agreement with you while on active duty or in any kind of military service and then receives orders for a permanent change of station or to deploy with a military unit must also be permitted to terminate the lease early. This only applies if the change of station is for a period of no less than 90 days. The end of an active duty tenant’s service also qualifies in this case.

There are requirements in place to protect landlords when a member of the military must terminate the lease agreement early. The tenant is required to give written notice of the termination and a copy of their military orders. After delivering this notice, the lease is considered terminated 30 days after the next rental payment. So, if the PCS orders come in for your tenant on August 10 and your military tenant pays rent on September 1, the lease terminates at the end of September.

You are not permitted to charge early termination fees, despite what your lease may state. If any rent was paid in advance, you must prorate it according to the end of the lease and return it to the tenant. You can require that the tenant pay any rent that is still owed.

Knowing the requirements and restrictions that come with this law will help you provide good, legally compliant service to your military tenants and their families.

Leasing Process and Military Tenants

Outside of the legal responsibilities you have to your military tenants, there are also things you can do to make the entire leasing and rental process easier for them to manage.

Military families may be renting from outside the area, for example, so they’ll really be relying on pictures and video tours. Providing an experience that’s as close to an in-person showing as possible is invaluable when marketing your rental property to military tenants.

There are a number of online rental listing sites that focus primarily on military tenants. Make sure you’re optimizing those platforms so you can market directly to military members.

Make the Moving Process Simple and Stress-Free

It’s also worthwhile to remember that military families have done this all before. They are not strangers to relocation. They have picked up and moved a lot throughout their lives, so they’re going to have a pretty specific set of expectations when it comes to moving into a rental property. They have probably seen the best in rental homes and the worst. They’ve worked with great landlords and terrible landlords.

Military families probably won’t need you to explain the elementary stuff, like how the lease works and what needs to be done to turn on the utilities. They have experience with all of it.

What they will need is the local support that only you can provide. Be a resource. Tell them where and how to register for school. Share recommendations on nearby grocery stores and restaurants. Provide an orientation to the property and how it works. They’ll need to know where the water shut-off valve is in case there’s a plumbing issue.

Military tenants will need you to provide ease and simplicity when it comes to their move-in process.

Military Families Can’t Control When they Move from Colorado Springs

You can expect your military tenants to sign a one-year lease agreement just like any other tenants. However, if they get PCS orders that take them out of town for an extended period of time, they’ll need the flexibility to get out of the lease. Make sure your lease agreement reflects a process and a flexible exit strategy for tenants who have to leave and have no control over their move-out date.

These are just a few of the things that landlords need to know when they lease a rental property to a member of the military. Generally, they are like all your tenants, but when you deliver a rental experience that demonstrates empathy for the unique challenges of their lives, you’ll find they appreciate you and your process.

We specialize in these rentals, so if you’d like some help getting the attention of local and out-of-state military tenants, contact us at Empower Realty Team. We lease, manage, and maintain investment properties in Colorado Springs, Monument, Castle Rock, Parker, and Aurora.

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