The Service member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) expanded upon the former Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The SCRA provides a wide range of protections for individuals entering, called to active duty in the military, or deployed service members. What affect does this law have on your association regarding collection of past due assessments? This law provides some important limitations on creditors’ collection rights with respect to owners serving in the military. As a result, it is important board members and managers understand the impact these limitations might have on the collection of assessments. Here are some of the frequently asked questions associations have about SCRA.
Is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940 still effective?
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act was replaced in 2003 when President Bush signed the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
What is the purpose of the SCRA?
The purpose of the SCRA is to allow members of the military service to devote their entire energy to the defense of the United States thereby strengthening national defense and to provide for the temporary suspension of judicial proceedings and transactions that may adversely affect the civil rights of servicemembers during their military service.
Does SCRA apply to homeowner associations?
Yes. The SCRA applies to all creditors.
When does the SCRA protection begin?
The SCRA’s protections commence when a person enters active military service. Members of the military reserve are covered on the date they receive active duty orders.
When does the SCRA protection end?
The SCRA terminates on the date the servicemember is released from military service or dies while in the military service. SCRA’s stay of civil proceedings continue until 90 days after termination or release from military service.
What procedural requirements must be met before a judgment can enter against a servicemember who is covered under the SCRA?
First, the Plaintiff must affirm to the Court whether an individual Defendant is a member of the service.
Second, an attorney has to be appointed by the Court for any servicemember before judgment can enter. The Plaintiff may be required to pay the attorney’s fees.
What happens if the attorney cannot locate the servicemember?
If the attorney cannot locate the servicemember, the servicemember may assert his or her rights under the SCRA at a later date.
What happens if the servicemember does not appear?
The Court is required to stop all proceedings for at least 90 days if the servicemember does not appear if:
- upon the request of the attorney;
- if the Court determines that the servicemember has a defense and the defense requires the servicemember’s presence; or,
- if the appointed attorney cannot locate the servicemember.
Can a service member have a judgment set aside?
Yes, a servicemember may have a judgment set aside if a judgment is entered against a servicemember during the servicemember’s period of military service or within 60 days after the servicemember is released from military service. The Court which entered the judgment must set aside the judgment if:
- the servicemember did not appear in the case;
- the servicemember’s military service materially affected the servicemember’s ability to defend the action; and,
- the servicemember has a legal defense to all or part of the action.
Does the SCRA allow the servicemember to request a reduction in interest rate?
SCRA also allows a service member to reduce the interest rate to 6% per annum on obligations entered into prior to entering military service. The interest in excess of six (6%) percent is deemed forgiven. In order to obtain this relief, the servicemember must provide written notice to the creditor along with a copy of the servicemember’s military orders.