By Lynnsee Starr
Most standard residential lease contracts do not ask tenants for this all-important information—the tenant’s birthdate. While the law creating the need for such information has not changed, judges’ attitudes have.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) puts in place certain protections for active military status individuals. One of those protections pertains to evictions. A military service member is protected from eviction if the cause for eviction is due to the individual’s military service. For example, if an individual is unable to pay rent due to his or her active military status, a court will deny any current eviction proceedings and may possibly block future eviction proceedings.
Due to the SCRA, justice courts require landlords to file documentation indicating that the tenant the landlord seeks to evict is not in the military. If this information cannot be obtained, landlords are required to post a bond. Courts recognize that many, if not most, landlords barely know tenants’ full names let alone their professions. This why an official website exists allowing landlords to obtain certificates of non-service which can then be provided to courts to prove an individual is not an active servicemember. The caveat however is that you must have the individuals full name and birthdate or social security number to obtain a certificate.
Most leases, including the standard TREC residential lease, do not request such information from tenants. This means when it comes time to evict, landlords are at the mercy of the tenant’s willingness to cooperate when obtaining this information. Not an ideal situation to be in after the landlord/tenant relationship has soured.
In the good old pre-pandemic days, it was possible for a landlord to succeed in an eviction proceeding without posting a bond even if a certificate of non-service could not be obtained. It simply required additional time and effort. However, in light of the many hardships caused by COVID-19, landlords must be wary of sympathetic and tenant-friendly judges looking for ways to avoid evicting tenants. While most judges in the past would evict a tenant without hesitation, many now think differently. Therefore, rather than risking the success of an eviction case, simply require the tenant provide his or her birthdate in the residential lease.
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About Lynnsee Starr
Lynnsee Starr represents clients in a wide range of litigation and transactional matters.
Lynnsee has been admitted to the State Bar of Texas, the State Bar of Arizona, the United States District Court of the Northern District of Texas, the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas, and the United States District Court of the District of Arizona.Learn more about Lynnsee…