Know Your Protections under Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

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The SCRA is a piece of legislation designed to give service members additional protection in the event that their rights are violated in the course of military or uniformed service due to legal or financial transactions. As a result of these safeguards, military personnel is better able to focus their efforts on defending the country. Check this blog to know more about SCRA Law.

The following service members are covered by the SCRA:

Personnel on active duty in the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, or any of these components of the armed forces, as well as Reserve and National Guard personnel who have been mobilized under federal orders for more than 30 consecutive days.

Anyone with a valid power of attorney for the service member can exercise his or her SCRA rights. Several SCRA protections are also available to a person’s heirs.

Those who serve in the military frequently inquire about these protections, according to the Justice Department:

  • Limiting pre-service loan interest rates to no more than 6%
  • Civil cases are shielded from default judgments by various measures.
  • Safeguards against their home being foreclosed upon
  • Measures to guard against the seizure of their belongings
  • Residential and automobile leases can be terminated with no financial penalty.

Limiting pre-service loan interest rates to no more than 6%

It is possible to have your interest rate reduced to no more than 6 percent per year, if you had a “pre-service obligation” (also known as a “pre-service loan”), or if you took out the loan with your spouse before joining the military. To be eligible for this benefit, you must provide the lender with written confirmation from your commanding officer that you have begun active duty service.

For most loans, the pre-service obligation rate reduction applies during active duty service, and for mortgages, an additional year after active duty service. For as long as you’re on active duty, your lender is required to lower your interest rate on pre-service obligations to 6 percent if you properly request one under the SCRA. After you leave active duty, your lender will be unable to charge you interest rates above 6% on the loan. Requesting a lower interest rate from your lender while serving on active duty and for the first 180 days after your release from active duty is completely free.

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Just because you exercised your SCRA rights doesn’t mean a lender can revoke your loan or change your credit terms. As a result of your SCRA rights, lenders cannot report negative information about you to a credit reporting company. Even if your interest rate is reduced under the SCRA, you still have to repay your debts.

Civil cases are shielded from default judgments by various measures

Under the SCRA, you have certain legal protections if you are sued while a service member is on active duty. These include some safeguards against a civil action’s default judgment. It is a court order in favor of the “plaintiff” suing you if you fail to appear or defend yourself in the case.

The following are some of your SCRA-guaranteed rights:

  • Any party seeking a default judgment against you must first submit to the court an affidavit proving that you are not currently serving in the military and providing facts to back up that assertion. Affidavits must be filed if the person suing you cannot determine whether you are currently serving in the armed forces.
  • After a court appoints you an attorney, it cannot enter a default judgment against you if you are currently serving in the military.
  • If certain conditions are met, the court must also permit a 90-day delay in proceedings.

Safeguards against their home being foreclosed upon

Unless you have waived your rights, you cannot be foreclosed on if you took out a mortgage prior to entering active military service. On active duty and for an additional year afterward, you’ll be protected from financial ruin. Foreclosure protection extends to states that do not require a court order to foreclose and whether or not you informed your lender or servicer of your military status.

SCRA allows a court to put a stop to foreclosures and adjust loans if a military member’s ability to pay back the loan is adversely affected by active duty.

The SCRA also protects servicemembers from default judgments, which are court rulings against a party to a lawsuit who fails to show up in court. Foreclosure proceedings in front of a judge are covered by this safeguard.

Measures to guard against the seizure of their belongings

A court order may be required in some cases under the SCRA to prevent creditors from seizing your personal property, such as your car. If you fail to make your monthly payments, for example, the creditor must first file a lawsuit and get an order from a judge before they can reclaim your vehicle or other personal property. The following conditions must be met in order to benefit from this security feature:

  • Pre-enlistment purchase or lease of a vehicle or other personal property; and pre-enlistment installment payment on a vehicle or other personal property.
  • The SCRA provides additional federal protections in addition to those provided by state law.
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Residential and automobile leases can be terminated with no financial penalty

Under the SCRA, which protects the rights of servicemembers and their families, a service member or his or her dependents have the right to terminate residential leases. Prior to joining the military or once you have joined and received orders for a PCS or deployment lasting at least 90 days, housing leases should be terminable free of charge.

your commanding officer’s letter or an official notice of termination must be delivered to your landlord in person, via private carrier or regular mail with a return receipt requested; or via electronic means, such as a letter from your landlord.

30 days after the date on which the first rental payment is due and payable after the date on which the termination notice is delivered, a housing lease can be terminated.

SCRA allows servicemembers to cancel or terminate a car lease without incurring early termination charges or penalties under certain circumstances. You must have agreed to the lease in order to be able to get out of it without paying a penalty under the SCRA.

A PCS from a CONUS location to an OCONUS location or a PCS from an OCONUS location to any new location, as well as a 180-day or longer deployment with a military or uniformed unit, or in support of a military or uniformed operation, must be received prior to entering active duty.

By hand delivery, private carrier, regular mail with return receipt requested, or electronic means, a copy of your commanding officer’s letter or orders must be delivered to your landlord from you, or someone exercising a power of attorney on your behalf.

Check out the lease agreement’s terms and consider your personal situation before signing. In the event that you receive PCS orders from one CONUS location to another, make sure that your lessor allows the vehicle you intend to lease to be taken out of state, as you cannot end your contract for this reason.

Your contract may be breached even though you are protected by the SCRA from repossession without a court order for failing to pay your bills. Due to your failure to pay, you may be hit with additional fees, such as a late fee. Missed payments can be reported to credit bureaus, and the creditor can take legal action to recoup the debt owed to them, including a lawsuit.

Conclusion

Several legal and financial safeguards are provided by the SCRA so that military personnel can concentrate on their mission without having to worry about what is happening back home.

 

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