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Military Customer ?

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  • Military Customer ?

    One of our customer's rented about a year ago and was not in the service. In April his mom came in to pay and let me know that her son (customer) is in the service. I let her know that I would send him a form requesting information from him. Which branch, Rank, email address, etc. I mailed the letter to his address but never heard back. His dad called today and left a message letting me know that his son is in the service and that it is his understanding that they don't have to pay while he is deployed. A Facebook search found his page and has lots of pictures of him dressed in his military uniform and pretty much proves he is in the service. Looks like he has been through basic training and left for his 1st American duty station about a month ago (August 30th). Although I don't know for sure I am pretty confident that he is not deployed.

    In the past I have called around and found out info from the local service offices. They have put me in touch with the commanding officer and I got paid within days. But now with so many security concerns I can't imagine that they would give out any info. I have used the https://scra-w.dmdc.osd.mil/scra/#/home in the past in this case I don't think I need to.

    Even though he is only one month past due of course we won't sell his items if/when the time comes. I will call his dad and explain this but that the customer is still responsible for the bill. I would waive late fees for him but I am wondering. What if he doesn't pay for months and months? Do you give him a break on his rent? Late fees?

    The future depends on what you do in the present.

  • #2
    The only difference with an active duty military tenant is you canít sell their unit until they are off of active duty for 90 days, or at least not without a court order. That means they get no breaks beyond what every other tenant gets. I would not waive any rent or feeís whatsoever and I would also give them the standard scheduled rent raises. Some people will try and take advantage of this situation, that is exactly what seems to be happening in your situation. The scra says nothing about they donít have to pay, and I would let the father know this, as well as inform him that if they donít pay they will continue to accrue late fees.

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    • #3
      Being a vet I hate it when someone in the service takes advantage of things like this. Let the fees add up and do the rent increases. I see no reason for you not to reach out to someone in the branch he is in, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force....Let them know the dilemma and that you had sent a form for the tenant to fill out and got no response. You can bet he got it because the father then contacted you. The father can make any threats he wants but stick to your guns. Being in the service does not mean free. Please let us all know what happens.
      "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pacnwstorage View Post
        Being a vet I hate it when someone in the service takes advantage of things like this. Let the fees add up and do the rent increases. I see no reason for you not to reach out to someone in the branch he is in, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force....Let them know the dilemma and that you had sent a form for the tenant to fill out and got no response. You can bet he got it because the father then contacted you. The father can make any threats he wants but stick to your guns. Being in the service does not mean free. Please let us all know what happens.
        If you want to reach out to the military and try to get answers go for it, my point is they get no special treatment, especially after the father has basically said they are taking advantage of the situation and not paying.

        I have given up on trying to chase people down, itís not our responsibility to compensate for someone else who is irresponsible. And to be clear Iím not just talking about the military tenants, we get a few here and there and usually they are not a problem. We have had tenants spouses tell us the tenant is overseas in the military and will be making the payments, and they come through on time.

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        • #5
          I called dad then mom and left messages at both numbers. Mom called back and thought that because he was in the service he didn't have to pay.

          Me: Uhm...no he is responsible for the rent & late fees.
          Mom: The late fees too? I thought those were waived.
          Me: No, still his responsibility. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act ensures that his unit won't be put into lien or sold at auction.

          She said he was deployed, overseas and didn't know what kind of internet they have there. Now, I can't tell for sure but doing my snooping he is in a US tropical paradise doing military stuff.

          Mom also asked if we had someone who would come in and sell his stuff that he doesn't want. No, but if you have the code & key and he is paid up then you can come in and take it all or donate it, whatever his wishes are but we stay out of it. She said if is in the military for 10 years then he could have bought new furniture with the $ he would have saved.

          The future depends on what you do in the present.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MZC&D View Post

            If you want to reach out to the military and try to get answers go for it, my point is they get no special treatment, especially after the father has basically said they are taking advantage of the situation and not paying.

            I have given up on trying to chase people down, itís not our responsibility to compensate for someone else who is irresponsible. And to be clear Iím not just talking about the military tenants, we get a few here and there and usually they are not a problem. We have had tenants spouses tell us the tenant is overseas in the military and will be making the payments, and they come through on time.
            One thing, to be clear, so so others looking in the future will know - if we know they are deployed military, we cannot sell their belongings without a waiver signed by them, or a court order. No, we don't have to chase them down, but we do have to sit on their things until they are back stateside.

            I had a unit that I didn't know was military. But when we cut the lock for inventory, it was clear. From then on, it sat accruing charges until he finally got back in touch with us. He paid up and went on autopay after that!
            Last edited by MamaDuke; 22nd September 2018, 05:42 PM.
            MamaDuke

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            • #7
              I'd be willing to place a high wager that mom knows precisely what type of Internet access he has. I'm sure he's been in touch with them. Now granted, when our eldest son was deployed it was odd. He could message on Facebook but couldn't use email. Go figure. But yes, they have access, it's just a matter of how important it is to him to deal with his stuff. You've told mom so now the ball is in their court.

              It wouldn't hurt to follow up with a quick, short note about how rent is due even when deployed/active duty and he is subject to all the terms of the agreement he signed. Keep a copy in his file. Maybe also note that you'd really hate to have to get his C.O. involved in such a personal matter, but you will have no choice if they don't get the account current. Play hard ball from the get go or it's going to be an even bigger headache down the line. Good luck Kathleen!
              Gina 6k
              twitter.com/GinaSixKudo
              VM: Four-Oh-Eight- Seven-Eight-Oh-Eight-Oh-Seven-Nine
              storagebizhelp@gmail.com



              You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!
              I am not an attorney, just an experienced manager who is willing to share what I have learned. Your thoughts, practices or opinions may vary and neither of us may be right.

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              • #8
                I would contact the his CO and tell him/her what is going on and that you are also a vet so you understand the situation but dont understand him not paying since he gets a check twice a month...

                I hate when one bad vet gives the rest of us a bad name

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                • #9
                  If you are at a standstill, there is no problem contacting the CO; but, do remember that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act prohibits "self help". You cannot foreclose, padlock, empty, or sell the contents of a locker belonging to person in active duty without a valid court order. Quite apart from the legal repercussions (there are even criminal penalties in the SCRA), there could be a public relations nightmare. It is very easy to determine if a person is on active military duty, even without a social security number (scra.com also known as ServicemembersCivilReliefAct.com). The verification should be part of every operator's checklist when there is any action contemplated against a renter.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SCRACVS View Post
                    If you are at a standstill, there is no problem contacting the CO; but, do remember that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act prohibits "self help". You cannot foreclose, padlock, empty, or sell the contents of a locker belonging to person in active duty without a valid court order. Quite apart from the legal repercussions (there are even criminal penalties in the SCRA), there could be a public relations nightmare. It is very easy to determine if a person is on active military duty, even without a social security number (scra.com also known as ServicemembersCivilReliefAct.com). The verification should be part of every operator's checklist when there is any action contemplated against a renter.
                    Are you sure we are not allowed to deny access to a military person who is delinquent?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Grizz View Post
                      I would contact the his CO and tell him/her what is going on and that you are also a vet so you understand the situation but dont understand him not paying since he gets a check twice a month...

                      I hate when one bad vet gives the rest of us a bad name
                      I think that he is young and dumb ( weren't we all? ) and probably told his parents he didn't have to pay while in the service. He may have misunderstood the SCRA or just wanted his parents off his back. His dad paid so he is caught up now. I would call his CO if he got too far behind. He doesn't answer my calls but his parents do so we are all good.

                      My husband and sister served but I didn't. The military wouldn't take diabetics but even if they did I don't think the military life would have been for me. Thank you Grizz and all who have served. <3
                      The future depends on what you do in the present.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The SCRA reads as follows: ß 3958. Enforcement of storage liens
                        (a) Liens
                        (1) Limitation on foreclosure or enforcement
                        A person holding a lien on the property or effects of a servicemember may not, during any period of military service of the servicemember and for 90 days thereafter, foreclose or ENFORCE any lien on such property or effects without a court order granted before foreclosure or enforcementÖ.
                        (c) Misdemeanor
                        A person who knowingly takes an action contrary to this section, or attempts to do so, shall be fined as provided in title 18 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.


                        I have capitalized the word "enforce". If a storage operator seeks to padlock or control the contents, it is in furtherance of the operator's rights under local law, which usually imposes a lien for unpaid rent. It follows logically that, if that that is the genesis of the operator's rights, any enforcement would be prohibited by the SCRA. I do know of one state storage owners association which has taken a contrary position, but I would hate to be the test case when the language is so clear.

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                        • #13
                          So, is that saying the facility cannot enforce a lien and the fees associated with a lien but late fees and locking the unit is ok as long as contents are not sold during the outlined time frame? I can understand not selling contents but the fees should not be waved when they come back to either catch up on what is due or move out of the unit.
                          "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SCRACVS View Post
                            The SCRA reads as follows: ß 3958. Enforcement of storage liens
                            (a) Liens
                            (1) Limitation on foreclosure or enforcement
                            A person holding a lien on the property or effects of a servicemember may not, during any period of military service of the servicemember and for 90 days thereafter, foreclose or ENFORCE any lien on such property or effects without a court order granted before foreclosure or enforcementÖ.
                            (c) Misdemeanor
                            A person who knowingly takes an action contrary to this section, or attempts to do so, shall be fined as provided in title 18 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.


                            I have capitalized the word "enforce". If a storage operator seeks to padlock or control the contents, it is in furtherance of the operator's rights under local law, which usually imposes a lien for unpaid rent. It follows logically that, if that that is the genesis of the operator's rights, any enforcement would be prohibited by the SCRA. I do know of one state storage owners association which has taken a contrary position, but I would hate to be the test case when the language is so clear.
                            Lien is the word I hold my hat on. It says that we are allowed to have a lien on the unit. We just can't enforce it. To me I can't have a lien on items that the tenant has free reign to remove. Therefore I can't even have a lien unless I deny the tenant access to the items in my opinion.

                            In matters like this you should always check with your own lawyer, because my lawyer is not going to come and defend you, and yours won't come and defend me if someone says something incorrect on here.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree that "lien" is the operative word here.

                              If your local law says that there is some other justification for padlocking, besides the concept of lien, then the operator may be within its rights (that is not to say that the operator should do it). Otherwise, the padlocking is clearly a way of preserving (a/k/a enforcing) your lien and that is prohibited.

                              This thread is dealing with "self-help", as opposed to whether the servicemember continues to be liable for rent and late fees. There are other issues to consider such as waivers and termination of SCRA protections after end of military service.

                              I agree with Randy; check with your local lawyer when you are dealing with a client who is in active duty (or who has just ended duty) and I also remind operators how crucial, easy, and inexpensive it is to use the SCRACVS to verify military duty status. It should be part of the checklist to follow when there is any default.

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