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Tenant's spouse is military. Can he break his lease?

Seattle, WA |

My tenant is 6 months into a 12mo lease. He took the place because his wife was supposed to be deployed. Now she is "reassigned" and staying here. He wants to break the lease (wife is not on lease) so they can move to a house they own 45 minutes from here. Is this legal solely because his spouse is military?

Attorney Answers 2


Not sure that either of your tenants has reviewed the RLTA. Married persons in WA are jointly and severally liable on agreements entered into by one of them. Otherwise, no one would ever extend credit or sell something to a married person. So just because his wife is not on the lease does not limit your ability to ask both of them to pay a debt they could incur.

What triggers the SSCRA relief found in the RLTA is when the tenant or their spouse is deployed elsewhere. Not sure that the reassignment you are discussing here qualifies. They have to give you copies of the orders as soon as they get them. So you can look at the orders and get a sense of where the soldier and her husband are assigned. The relevant sub-statute of the RLTA is RCW 59.18.200.

Hope this helps you. Elizabeth Powell

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Thanks Elizabeth. Much appreciated. It's an odd situation because she is being reassigned, technically. It's just that she's been "reassigned" here. Perhaps they're following the letter of the law, if not the spirit.


You should consult with an attorney familiar with the SCRA immediately. The SCRA has specific language with respect to the orders that trigger the ability to terminate a lease. The SCRA also imputes a "military clause" in your lease agreement, even if you do not have one. The SCRA also provides protection to the spouse of a military member and the general nature of the SCRA is a broad base of protection to a military member and their dependents. Lastly, and the most important one for you, is that the SCRA creates a private cause of action (aka "a right to sue") violators of the SCRA for damages.

In this situation, it is best to be cautious and consult with an attorney. The specific facts of your case are extremely important and the small amount that can be discussed on avvo will not lead to a competent answer. Consult with an attorney.

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