Can I break the lease agreement if I get military orders?

By Tenant

Due to the nature of work in the military, service men are entitled to a certain set of guidelines that would protect them from their financial obligations. According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a military man can terminate his lease agreement when they go active on duty. This is if the lease was set into place before they even got to be on active duty. Also, if a residential lease was entered into while the military man is on active duty but then, he got a permanent change of station, then he can also break the lease agreement. He is also protected if he has received an order to deploy for a period of 90 days or more.

Does this privilege extend to the immediate family members too?

The protection covers any rental property that has been occupied or the military man is still planning to occupy. It also extends to his dependents or immediate family members. But again, you must understand that this is granted that the serviceman has resided or is planning to reside in a specific rental property.

For example, if you are on the lease agreement but your husband is in the military, then you can also break the lease agreement if your husband has received orders to move out.

How can you break a lease agreement?

To break a lease agreement, the serviceman has to do the following:

  • Request, in writing, for a termination of the lease agreement.
  • Include a copy of the orders your husband has received from the military.
  • Deliver the notification in any way that you want as long as there is receipt of delivery.

If you are on a month-to-month lease agreement, your earliest termination date would be about 30 days after the due date of your payment. So for example, if you pay your rent every 1st of the month and then your husband received his orders on the 18th of the month, then you can terminate your lease agreement effective the first day of next month.

But if you are not on a month-to-month agreement, the earliest termination date would be the last day of the same month. Remember that there is a process for the termination and you cannot just pack up and go.

The apartment will still need to be inspected prior to your move to check for repairs that need to be done. Your security deposit will still be used to make the needed repairs and you will still get an itemized list of all the repairs that have affected your security deposit. The rest of the moving out process remains to be relatively the same.

What if there are other people on the list and they want to stay?

If this is the case, the military member can just request for his name to be taken off the lease agreement. The other people on the lease can then look for another roommate to replace the military member. But until a replacement tenant is found, the roommates left in the apartment will be responsible for the military member’s share of rent.

When should you file for a complaint?

Your landlord cannot hold your husband if he is the military. He can leave or be taken off the lease agreement. However, he also cannot hold you liable to the rest of the lease agreement. You are your husband’s immediate family.

If your landlord is being really difficult to deal with after you have followed all the required steps to terminating a lease agreement, then next logical step that you can do is to file a complaint with the RPA. You can use their mediation center that is accessible via this link:

Edited on: Monday, February 25th, 2013 9:29 pm

15 Responses to “Can I break the lease agreement if I get military orders?”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 25th, 2013 9:40 pm

Is a military clause in the lease agreement needed for military tenant rights to take effect?


February 26th, 2013 9:40 am

No, I don?t think a military lease is needed. Most landlords will create a general lease agreement for all their tenants and they may not make one specifically for you. Anyway, any lease agreement is superseded by state and federal laws so the SSCRA will still take effect.


February 26th, 2013 10:00 pm

My husband is not in the lease agreement and this is not his primary residence. He just got home from deployment and is now assigned in Colorado. I would love to break the lease agreement to be with him. Since I am his immediate family, can I break the lease agrement and move with him?


February 27th, 2013 10:20 am

I would suggest that you follow the steps outlined in this article. Tell your husband to write a request to your landlord and attach a copy of his orders. However, your landlord could refuse your husband’s request but again, it won’t hurt you if you ask.


February 27th, 2013 10:20 pm

But isn’t it in the law? If your husband got orders and you are the immediate family, doesn’t the SSCRA protect you too?


February 28th, 2013 10:40 am

Well, the law says that the rental property has to be the primary residence of the military man so you may not be covered by it.


February 28th, 2013 11:00 pm

Yes, so if you move out and break the lease agreement, then you would need to pay the necessary termination fees. For better guidance, you can consult with a lawyer or file a complaint with the RPA.


March 1st, 2013 11:20 am

You would have to check your state’s tenant-landlord law. I have a lease agreement and I read it from top to bottom. It was not clearly stated as to the military clause but my tenant laws have been very specific about it. And as you know, state tenant laws will always supersede your lease agreement.


March 1st, 2013 11:20 pm

The military sure gets a lot of perks but you cannot abuse them. If your husband is not in the lease agreement then you cannot expect your landlord to honor your request for early lease termination.


March 2nd, 2013 11:20 am

You signed the lease so you have to be responsible for it. You cannot just cancel it and use your husband’s military priviledges.


March 2nd, 2013 11:20 pm

If you’re in the military and you are allowed to be off the lease granted that you pay some fines, you have to file a complaint against your landlord. RPA can help you out.


March 3rd, 2013 11:20 am

A landlord who violates the law for miliatry tenants will be penalized so they need to be careful and you need to know your rights too.


March 3rd, 2013 11:40 pm

Thank you for this article. This is, indeed, a good read.


March 4th, 2013 12:00 pm

Well, if the wife took the lease agreement during the husband’s deployment and now that he is back and she wants to join him, I don’t think she’ll be covered by the law. I guess she’ll have to pay the fees, in accordance to the termination clause in the lease agreement.


March 5th, 2013 12:00 am

Right. The military clause does not have to be written in your lease just to be valid.


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