Landlord Tenant Q&A with CARL L. FRAZIER (R)

CARL L. FRAZIER (R), PB
Owner, Principal Broker
Cornerstone Properties
Past President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers and National Conference Speaker

Q. I have a military tenant that I just signed a two year lease with two months ago. He just called me on the 20th of this month and he told me due to military orders he has to leave in three days. He told me to keep this month’s rent but that he was not going to pay rent for next month. I called him and told him the notice was too short. He said it wasn’t his fault, it was the military’s. I don’t know what to say to him. Can you help me please. I used the standard Hawaii Association of Realtors form revised in February of 2013.

A. This is a great question – short term notice for military members from their command seems common. The ‘Military Clause’ was one of the major revisions on the lease agreement this year. It brought the wording and clause into line with federal law. It is based on the Service Members Civil Relief Act. According to the lease and the federal law, the tenant does indeed owe rent for the next month, the entire month. In order to invoke the military clause certain conditions must be present.

First, the orders must be for a period of no less than 90 days. Second, the tenant must present you a copy of those orders. And third, the request to terminate the lease must be in writing.

This is what the clause says: If TENANT receives military orders after execution of this Rental Agreement that require (i) TENANT’S change of permanent station (PCS) from a location on an island within Hawaii to any location off-island or outside Hawaii, or (ii) TENANT to deploy with a military unit or as an individual in support of a military operation for a period of not less than ninety (90) days, TENANT may end TENANT’S obligations under this Rental Agreement. To terminate this Rental Agreement, said military TENANT must deliver by hand, private business carrier, or mail with return receipt requested, written notice with a copy of the official orders to the LANDLORD. Oral notice is not sufficient. In the case of a fixed-term or a month-to-month requiring monthly rents, the earliest termination date is thirty (30) days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due, following proper notification of termination of the Rental Agreement. For example, if rents are due on the first day of every month, and TENANT properly notifies LANDLORD on July 20 that TENANT wishes to terminate the Rental Agreement, the earliest termination date is September 1, thirty (30) days after

August 1 when the next rental payment was due after notice. In the case of all other terms of lease, the termination of the Rental Agreement is effective on the last day of the month following the month in which proper notice is delivered to LANDLORD. The parties should refer to the Service Members Civil Relief Act for further guidance.

This should allow you plenty of time to re-rent the property with no vacancy. As far as what to tell him? Just send him a copy of the lease portion where this is written, remind him to pay his rent next month and that the security deposit cannot be used for last month’s rent. Also, remind him that all other termination clauses of his lease apply such as cleaning, yard clean-up and whatever else may apply to your specific lease. Also, let him know that you will advertise the home right away and if you get another tenant that moves in prior to the end of the following month, you will reimburse him the rent that he paid as you will not be collecting rent from two people for the same period of time.

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