PCS On Hold? Why You Might Want to Visit Legal Now


Story Number: NNS200320-10Release Date: 3/20/2020 5:52:00 PM
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By Cmdr. John Bauer, Chief of Naval Personnel Legal Office,

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Sailors waiting out the 60-day hold on Permanent Change of Station moves should consult their local Legal Assistance Office before notifying a landlord of intent to terminate their lease or even if they need to negotiate an extension.

In situations like this, Congress has given military members wide ranging protections under a 2003 law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.  

Known as the SCRA, the law’s legal reach protects service members when signing rental agreements or negotiating credit card rates as well as postpones mortgage foreclosure and some civil judicial proceedings for those on active duty in the military.

This is important because once the travel ban is lifted and Sailors are given adjusted transfer dates, there are situations where they could lose some or all of their SCRA lease termination protection if they don’t handle things correctly up front.   

For example, Sailors should be aware if they negotiate a lease extension while in receipt of PCS orders -- even if the orders are subsequently modified -- they risk jeopardizing their lease termination protections under the act.

So, if you have received, or are expecting to receive, PCS orders and have not yet terminated your current lease, you should consider waiting until the Navy lifts the stop-movement order and reauthorizes PCS moves. Even once the travel ban is lifted, it may take some time to turn your move back on.

However, if you have already requested an early lease termination under the SCRA, seek immediate from your Legal Assistance Office in contacting your landlord to request a voluntary lease extension.

Any agreement to re-let or extend a lease, however, should be written and signed by both you and your landlord with specific language that protects you from losing SCRA protections.  

If your landlord won’t give the extension, it’s not the end of the world, but you may have to relocate on an interim basis. 

Under Joint Travel Regulation Section 051904(b), a short-distance move may be authorized when vacating local private-sector housing because of an involuntary tour extension.  You could also contact the local transportation office to request the short-distance household goods move allowed in Chapter 5 of the same travel regulations.

For further assistance, call your local Legal Assistance Office to arrange a phone consultation with a legal assistance attorney.

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