When military renters get their orders to pack up and ship out, it can leave some rental property owners wondering, 'Now what?' There are many great reasons you should rent to military personnel—not the least of which is that they're model renters more often than not.
However, when servicemen and women suddenly get their orders to deploy, a high turnover rate can be challenging for investors. That's why it's so important to plan ahead as a rental property owner in the Northern Virginia area.
Be upfront with military renters about your expectations, understand their rights (and your own), and work together to create a plan that works for all parties. Above all, consider working with an Ashburn property management company to help you through the process.
Work With Your Military Renters to Accommodate Their Needs
Dealing with renter turnover can be a bit of a balancing act between meeting your own needs and accommodating your renters' needs.
When you rent to active servicemen and women, some turnover comes with the territory. When a renter gets orders to deploy, it's important to work with them as much as possible. At the very least, this will help you maintain your reputation as a military-friendly property owner, which will make it easier to fill any newly-vacated units more quickly.
You should also familiarize yourself with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which gives active military personnel certain rights when it comes to terminating their lease due to deployment. The gist of it is as follows:
- Men and women in the military can terminate their lease for a deployment longer than 90 days. This applies to active-duty members of the regular forces, National Guard members serving active-duty status under federal orders, reservists called to active duty, and Coast Guard members serving on active duty.
- The service member must provide written notice that they intend to invoke their termination rights under the SCRA, along with a copy of their deployment orders.
- The lease termination is effective 30 days after the next rental payment is due. In other words, assuming your resident's rent is due on the first of the month, if you receive notice on January 5th, then the termination date will be February 30th.
As an Ashburn investor, you cannot penalize service members for terminating their lease early under the SCRA. You cannot charge a termination fee, and the renter's security deposit cannot be held as a penalty. You must also return any rent paid for the period after the termination date.
The above reasons are incentive enough for many investors in the Ashburn area to turn their rental properties over to the care of an Ashburn property management company.
Verify the Renter’s Military Orders to Deploy
If a military renter is ordered to deploy, there's a very good chance that they will give you a letter of termination, along with a copy of their orders, as a courtesy. If they don't, it's well within your rights to ask to see the orders. As the property owner, you're not out of line to want to verify that your renter is leaving because of their orders.
- Keep in mind that service members are not always given orders more than 30 or 60 days before their move date.
- That means they may not be able to give you as much notice as you'd like (or even as much as they're technically supposed to under the SCRA guidelines).
- Even so, it's best to try to work with your military renters as much as possible. If they are awaiting orders, you could also request a signed memorandum from their commanding officer.
Create a Lease That Accommodates Short-Notice Deployments
While your military residents are always entitled to the protections of the SCRA, there may be situations, as mentioned above, when they're not able to give significant notice before deployment. That's why it's always a good idea to include language in your leasing agreement that makes accommodations for short-notice deployments. This is what's sometimes referred to as a 'military clause.'
You can choose the terms of this clause and how you want it to be worded. Typically, a military clause in the lease would stipulate that if a renter is forced to move due to:
- Removal from active duty
- Retirement from the military
- Orders to relocate to military housing
That they may terminate the lease with at least 30 days' notice and must provide a copy of their official orders.
Working With an Ashburn Property Manager
One of the simplest and safest ways to respectfully handle relations with your military renters is to utilize the services of a professional Ashburn property management company.
Working with enlisted renters and protecting your interests is just part of what a property manager can do for you. When you choose to work with a great property management team like RentSimple, you can rest assured that your interests—as well as the interests of your renters—is always the top priority.
At RentSimple, we've built our reputation on helping investors protect their investment: treating renters with respect and building working relationships with them is just one way we do this. However, it's not the only way to protect your portfolio! Learn more when you download your free copy of our resource, Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide!