With a normal lease, your landlord may be obligated under federal law to let you, as a member of the military, to break your lease, with conditions if you receive new orders.

This is true even if your lease agreement does not have a have a military clause in it. While the law may be considered vague, refer to Section 535 of the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Get the Printable Summary of Landlord Tenant Issues and Real Estate for Military Members – see  and read more below.

In addition many states have laws which may provide better protection then the Federal Law. Virginia is one example.

Your Base Housing / Legal Assistance Office typically require service members to have leases approved by the local military housing office and to have the landlord sign an acknowledgement regarding military personnel. One of the reasons for this is to ensure that the lease contains an acceptable “military clause.”

In general, Under Section 535 of the Service Member Civil Relief Act, a military member has the right to terminate a lease, if, after signing the lease: the tenant enters military service (which includes a reservist being called to active duty); or the tenant signs the lease while in military service, and then receives military orders for a PCS move, or to deploy, or as an individual in support of a military operation, with a military unit for a period of not less than 90 days.

Your local base housing office should be able to provide you a form containing the clause or even a form contract you may be able to provide to your landlord. Many housing offices work with local off base landlords.
The Landlord cannot sue the non-military member who signed the lease for performance under the lease agreement.


Under 531 of the SCRA, a military tenant cannot be evicted from a rented residence (during a period of military service) without a court order.  See the guide to Evictions.

If you have any questions regarding landlord-tenant issues, leases, or other personal legal assistance matters, contact the nearest military legal office for assistance.

Military clauses may vary in their specifics, they generally allow military to terminate leases for clearly defined reasons.

Generally, those reasons include discharge from the military or permanent change-of-station to a destination at least 20–50 miles away.

You may negotiate the specifics. The local housing office can provide the military clause used in your geographical area.  

In some cases, renters invoking the military clause must pay 30 days rent if less than 30 days notice is given.

If the lease does not include a military clause as an element of a standard lease, you may add it as a separate document.

If a lease does not include a military clause and must be broken for service-related reasons, don’t panic,  the housing officer on the installation will help the renter avoid or minimize penalties associated with breaking the lease, citing the Servicemember Civil Relief Act and State Law.  Again, prevent difficulties, ensure that your lease includes a military clause.

Military renters should recognize that a military clause is not a blanket permission to terminate the lease.

It applies only to the specific circumstances defined in the clause or under Federal or State Laws.

You will have someone that has committed themselves to serve the United States in one of the services. As always, you should do acredit  – reference check. Contact the local base housing office for more information on the Military Housing Clause, Federal Law and your local State Laws.


Example 1:  IN THE EVENT the Tenant is or hereafter becomes, a member of the United States Armed Forces on extended active duty and hereafter the Tenant receives permanent change of station orders to depart from the area where the Premises are located, or is relieved from active duty, retires or separates from the military, or is ordered into military housing, or is deployed for more than 90 days, then in any of these events, the Tenant may terminate this lease upon giving thirty (30) days written notice to the Landlord. The Tenant shall also provide to the Landlord a copy of the official orders or a letter signed by the tenant’s commanding officer, reflecting the change which warrants termination under this clause. The Tenant will pay prorated rent for any days (they) occupies the dwelling past the first day of the month.
The damage/security deposit will be promptly returned to the tenant, provided there are no damages to the premises.

Example 2:“This lease is executed with the express understanding by Landlord that Tenant is on active duty with United States Armed Forces. Therefore, the lease may be terminated by Tenant thirty (30) days after Tenant notifies Landlord, in writing, that: (1) the Tenant has received permanent change-of-station orders out of the area or (2) the Tenant is discharged or released from active duty. The lease may also be terminated thirty (30) days after Tenant has notified Landlord, in writing, that the Tenant has received notice from the Housing Office that government quarters are available under either of the following conditions: (1) Tenant has been ordered by his or her command to reside in government quarters; or (2) tenant informed Landlord prior to commencement of the lease that Tenant has requested government housing and is awaiting government quarters. Tenant will provide Landlord with a copy of such documents as may be necessary to substantiate the exercise of this military release clause. The word “Tenant” shall include the plural and shall apply equally to any and all Tenants residing in the premises under this lease who are members of the United States Armed Forces and their dependents. The exercise of this provision by any one of multiple Tenants shall constitute release for all Tenants.”