Proposed Senate Bill to Expand Soldiers Housing Rights

Senator Jack Reed(D-R.I) has proposed a change to the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (S 3179), which was introduced to the Senate this past Tuesday.

This change would allow servicemen and women to cancel off-base housing leases with short notice and no penalty when their name comes up for on-base housing. Currently many families at bases with a housing shortage will forego adding their name to the on-base waiting list, since attempting to terminate an off-base lease early can lead to financial penalties and other headaches. While states such as Florida, Virginia and Georgia currently allow no-penalty cancellations under certain circumstances, this bill would extend that law to all states.

This bill also contains a nine-month post-deployment window of foreclosure protection which would include both soldiers and surviving spouses. Also included in this bill is an easier path to claiming deployment protections (including a 6% cap on mortgage interest and cancellation of certain contracts) requiring only a letter from a commanding officer, instead of a copy of the actual orders.

Members of the House or Representatives, led by Elijah Cummings(D-Md.), are trying to get similar protections attached to the House version of the bill.

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