I’m on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and I just found out that I’m being deployed overseas. Can I cancel my car lease?
Most likely, yes. The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) permits active duty servicemembers to cancel a car lease without any penalty so long as certain conditions are met.
On December 19, 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the SCRA, which amended the earlier Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940. The SCRA provides legal relief to military personnel by allowing them to postpone, suspend, or get out of certain civil obligations so they can devote their full energies to the needs of the United States.
The SCRA applies to all active duty members of the United States military, including:
In some situations, dependents of servicemembers (such as a spouse or child) are also entitled to protections under the SCRA.
The SCRA allows servicemembers to terminate leases for cars used by the servicemember (or his or her dependents) for personal or business transportation under the following circumstances:
You can cancel a car lease that you signed prior to active duty if:
You can cancel a car lease you entered into while on active duty if you receive orders:
To cancel the lease you must provide the lessor (the company that leased the car to you):
The notice must be delivered by hand, private business carrier, or U.S. mail with return receipt requested. (Look online to find a sample form that you can use for the termination notice.)
You must return the car to the lessor within 15 days after you deliver the notice of termination.
The lessor can’t impose a fee for terminating the car lease early, but can charge you for:
If you paid any lease amounts in advance, the car lease company must refund those amounts to you within 30 days of the termination.