Amy Clark | Chief, Fort Leavenworth Legal Assistance Office
In an effort to protect the force, preserve readiness and mitigate the risk of the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, the Department of the Army has issued Execute Order 144-20, which will have an immediate effect on service members who have received, or expect to receive, permanent-change-of-station orders to or from Italy or Korea. Those service members should not cancel any leases pursuant to their rights under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.
The EXORD, dated March 6, halts all PCS orders to or from Italy or Korea until further notice. Affected soldiers and their families may be in the process of planning such PCS moves, including lease terminations. While the SCRA allows service members and their families to terminate the lease of premises and/or auto leases pursuant to military orders, including PCS orders, the SCRA does not require a landlord to re-lease those premises to service members and their families following a valid termination.
As such, these soldiers and their families should not terminate their current leases until the Army lifts the stop-PCS-movement order. Those who have already requested termination should contact their landlord immediately to see if the landlord will agree voluntarily to a lease extension or a temporary re-lease.
Soldiers and their families should be advised that if they validly cancel their leases under the SCRA, there is no mechanism to require landlords to re-lease the premises or to allow the soldiers and their families to retain their belongings on the premises after the effective termination date. Soldiers and their families who terminate their leases, but cannot PCS under the stop-PCS-order, may need to execute two moves: one from the terminated residence and then again when their PCS orders are re-issued. Funding for the moves will be uncertain until further notice, as will the availability of temporary lodging.
Soldiers and family members who have questions or need assistance with regard to a lease affected by this EXORD can call the Legal Assistance Office at 684-4944 to schedule an appointment.