According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), there are approximately 1.3 million active duty U.S. military personnel currently serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force combined. With frequent deployments, relocations, and transfers, it can sometimes be hard for military households to secure housing.
As a landlord, renting to military households can be a rewarding experience, both personally and financially. Welcoming military tenants will help households who are looking for a home off-base get settled more easily and will give you the opportunity to connect with hundreds of new local tenants. As a matter of fact, military households can be considered to be some of the best tenants a landlord can have as long as you understand the obstacles that may arise.
Why Renting To Military Households Makes Sense
Military members are often viewed as reliable tenants because they live a very structured lifestyle and typically have a strong work ethic. Therefore, they tend to be punctual with rent payments and take good care of the property. Many homeowners and landlords themselves, which can mean they understand the importance of a good landlord-tenant relationship.
In addition to being personally reliable, military members also have a stable source of income. When living off-base, many receive what’s called Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), a stipend designed to cover all or some of their rent costs. Since this stipend is automatically included in their paychecks, landlords can rest assured that their tenants will receive it each month.
Landlords can also request their tenant’s Leave and Earning Statement (LES) to verify their BAH balance, which is updated each month and includes a detailed breakdown of the service member’s income and leave status.
Access To The Rental Partnership Program (RPP)
For landlords who own property in close proximity to military bases, the RPP helps link them to service members seeking affordable off-base housing. Through marketing on the RPP website, landlords gain access to a larger pool of potential tenants. The RPP also determines lease terms for how long active-duty tenants will have to stay in the area by permanent order, giving landlords a better idea of how long prospective tenants will stay if they rent. For eligible landlords, the program also has another benefit. For service members seeking off-base housing, rent can be paid using allotted military funds.
It’s important to be aware, however, that to become an RPP partner, there are certain requirements that you must meet:
- First and foremost, you must have a clean record with the HSC, and your property must meet all the necessary inspection requirements.
- You must be willing to offer a discount of 5-15% on the advertised rate, or provide other types of discounts such as waiving move-in or application fees, security deposit, or agreeing to forgo a credit check.
- You will also need to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that shows you agree to the RPP’s terms and guidelines.
It’s important to keep in mind that while the RPP can help market your property, they cannot guarantee occupancy, nor will they cover any damages or missed rent payments.
Makes Managing A Rental Easier If You’re In A Less Populated Area
Managing rental properties can be challenging, particularly in communities with few potential renters in the surrounding area, such as college towns or neighborhoods without major shopping centers. However, for landlords in rural or less populated areas with military installations nearby, there is a significant opportunity. Thousands of military households transfer to these areas and require off-base housing for a period of 2-4 years, providing landlords with a reliable pool of applicants.
Why Renting to Military Households Can Be Tricky
One of the main drawbacks of renting to military households is their potential for sudden relocation or difficulties paying rent due to deployment schedules and other related matters. While in a regular lease agreement, you might take legal action against a tenant who breaches the lease terms or fails to pay rent, military tenants are entitled to special legal protections that could leave you with little or no recourse in such situations. In fact, if military tenants are deployed for longer than 90 days, they can end their lease without any penalties.
Understanding The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a set of laws designed to protect military rental tenants from financial and legal burdens that may arise due to their job’s demands. It provides various protections for service members during their active duty, including protection against eviction or foreclosure and postponement of certain civil court proceedings. The SCRA safeguards military members from the consequences of broken contracts, which include rental property leases.
Landlords with military tenants can benefit from understanding these protections and how they can affect their rental agreement. By being aware of the SCRA, landlords can provide better services to their military tenants and develop a strong, long-lasting relationship with them.
How The Military Clause Affects SCRA
A military clause is an additional provision that can be added to a lease agreement to accommodate military service members. Although it is not part of the SCRA, it can complement it. This clause is agreed upon by both the landlord and tenant and can provide the service member with extra protections beyond what is offered by the SCRA.
For example, a common military clause may state that if the tenant receives permanent change-of-station orders or is discharged from active duty, they may terminate the lease with a 30-day written notice. The clause may also allow termination if the tenant receives notice of available government quarters. In such cases, the tenant must provide the necessary documents to support the activation of the clause.
It’s also important to recognize that the term “tenant” includes all residents on the lease who are service members or their dependents.
Is It Legal for a Landlord to Deny Housing to Military Members?
While military status is not a protected class under federal law, according to the Fair Housing Act, there are state and local housing protections that prevent landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants based on their military status.
Before denying rental applications from military members, landlords should refer to their local and state laws. Some states have laws that specifically prohibit discrimination against military members, veterans, or their families.
It’s important to note that denying housing to someone solely based on their military status can be seen as unfair and may negatively impact your reputation as a landlord. Remember, it’s always best to weigh the potential risks and benefits before making any decisions.
Getting The Word Out
The key to attracting military households to your property lies in making accommodations that will make your rental highly appealing. Making adjustments to your rent or payment schedule based on local Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) averages is a great place to start.
You may also consider redesigning your lease agreement to be deployment-friendly. This might include offering flexible lease lengths or allowing tenants to pay on a month-to-month basis. In addition, offering a military discount on your rental listing is a great way to show appreciation for the sacrifices made by the military personnel and attract more tenants. By doing so, you not only make the renting process easier for them but also make them feel respected and valued. By following these tips, not only can you show your support for military households, but you can also make it easier for them to rent from you.