You can lawfully terminate your lease agreement if you're entering active duty for the first time, or if you're already on active duty and receive orders for a permanent change of station for 90 days or more. The law that gives you this right is called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (or SCRA)1 and it applies to:
- Active duty service members of any military branch
- Reserve service members called to active duty
- Active duty National Guard members on federal orders
How to break your lease as a service member
When terminating a lease under the SCRA, you'll need to provide written notice to your landlord that includes a copy of your orders from your specific military branch or a written statement from your commanding officer. Your lease terminates on the last day of the next month after you give notice. So, if you notified your landlord on September 15th, your lease terminates on October 31st. That usually means you’ll need to continue to pay rent for the remainder of the current month and all of the following month, as well.
Make sure to check your state's laws about breaking a lease, though. Certain jurisdictions offer additional protections for members of the military who need to break a lease because they've been deployed elsewhere. In Texas, for instance, your lease is terminated immediately upon notifying your landlord and providing them with a copy of your military orders. You don't owe any additional rent—and, in fact, you're entitled to a refund of any rent you paid in advance for the time you won't actually be living in the unit.
Having a military service clause in your lease agreement can also be really helpful in these situations. While you always have rights under the SCRA as an active duty service member, having a military service clause in your lease agreement can make it easier to invoke your SCRA rights or provide you with additional protections to complement those granted by the SCRA. For example, such a clause could allow you to break your lease if you are offered housing on-base at a later time, or a promotion elsewhere that doesn’t require active duty status.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.