Basic Allowance for Housing
The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is calculated based on rank, location, and whether a service member has dependents. BAH is designed to cover 95% of your housing expenses, including primary utilities (electricity, heating, water, and sewer). The Defense Travel Management Office has a BAH calculator you can use to learn what your BAH is or will be at an upcoming duty station.
Servicemember Civil Relief Act
The Servicemember Civil Relief Act, commonly referred to as SCRA, was enacted in 2003 to lessen the financial burdens of and protect service members (and their families) from vulnerabilities that may be complicated by military service. The SCRA has six key provisions, including:
- Six-percent rate cap. The SCRA limits the amount of interest for service members on things like credit cards, mortgages, and vehicle loans to 6%. If you have a loan that has an interest rate higher than 6%, you must provide proof of military service to the creditor and the creditor must forgive interest greater than 6% per year. This provision is designed to protect service members from predatory lenders.
- Protections against default judgements. If a service member does not appear in a civil court proceeding due to military service, default judgements can’t be made. There are some considerations here so it is important to educate yourself regarding your type of case (e.g., foreclosure) and the requirements or limitations.
- Requirement of a court order before foreclosure. This provision requires creditors to receive a court order prior to foreclosing on a mortgage. Also, this gives the court the ability to work with the service member (e.g., adjust payments) if the service member’s military service can affect their ability to make payments.
- Protection from vehicle repossessions. Creditors can’t repossess a service member’s vehicle without involving the court. The caveat here: A deposit or one payment must have been made on the vehicle.
- The ability to terminate a lease. We all know that the military can require us to move on short notice and/or break leases. The lease must be in the service member’s name and PCS orders or a letter from Command must be provided. This also applies to deployments that are longer than 90 days.
- Liens require court orders. This can apply to things like storage units. Your possessions can’t be disposed of without a court order to do so.
The SCRA can be complex, and it is important to seek legal support when you need it. Remember, JAG attorneys are a great resource if you think your rights have been violated.