Can a disabled veteran be evicted?
Being part of military service has many perks, which is why many people sign up. While the compensation and benefits of a military member is quite impressive, anything can happen. Some people fail to pay rent for one reason or another. They may even be people experiencing homelessness because of financial difficulties despite serving in the military.
The ‘homeless veteran’ has become a prevalent stereotype nowadays, and sadly, it has become an all too common occurrence. In most case, this homelessness was due to an eviction case. Veterans are among the most vulnerable groups to evictions. That’s why it’s important for military members and veterans to understand the legal protections they have. This is especially in the case of disabled veterans.
Legal protections for disabled veterans
It’s important for both the veteran and the landlord to understand the legal repercussions of evicting a disabled veteran. Here are some laws that provide protection and assistance to disabled veterans:
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 protects veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination. This law bans discrimination based on source of income, giving more individuals and families better access to affordability and a chance at economic mobility. However, this law does not cover tenants who were dishonorably discharged from military service.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all aspects of public life. This includes jobs, school, transportation, and all public and private areas that are generally open to the public. Moreover, this law guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a federal law that protects soldiers, airmen, sailors, coast guardsmen and commissioned officers in the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from getting a court order due to military service. Technically, the law doesn’t cover veterans paying rent, but there are instances wherein veterans can get protection from lease eviction because of this law. Veteran borrowers that are called up for active duty may be able to request for relief pursuant to the SCRA.
Eviction laws for disabled veterans
Rights of disabled veterans in eviction proceedings
With temporary bans lifted on so many Americans, including veterans, across the nation need assistance to remain in their homes, pay for their utilities and other housing-related expenses. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) can provide disabled veterans with free legal services and other appropriate resources offered by the VA and other government entities.
If disabled veterans are struggling in paying rent, utilities and other housing costs, a family member on their behalf or they can use the Consumer Financial Bureau’s Rental Assistance Finder to find resources available to them.
Reasonable accommodations for disabled veterans in housing
If a disabled veteran tenant finds it difficult to make payments and are in need of housing, there are resources they can turn to for respite. The National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans may call them at 1-877-4AID VET or (877) 424-3838.
Disabled veterans can also use the hotline to connect with the Supportive Service for Veteran Families (SSVF). SSVF provides case management and supportive services to prevent homelessness or to rapidly re-house Veterans and their families who are homeless. This program’s Shallow Subsidy intervention initiative provides a modest subsidity for two years to extremely low-income Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Potential eviction exceptions for disabled veterans
Under Washington state law, veterans with a 100% service-connected disability rating from the federal Department of Veteran Affairs may qualify for relief from certain property taxes. Aside from the disability rating, that veteran must own and occupy the residence. Under this exemption program, the value of a qualifying veteran’s residence is frozen for property tax purposes. In turn, the veteran becomes exempt from all excess and special levies.
Support for Disabled Veterans Facing Eviction
Resources and assistance for disabled veterans facing eviction
Veterans and other tenants who may know of veterans in need of housing assistance can contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Veterans may call them at 1-877-4AID VET or (877) 424-3838.
The VA’s Home Loan Center (877) 827-3702 can provide information on VA’s Partial Claim Payment program (VAPCP). This program temporarily defers payment for mortgage principal.
Legal assistance for disabled veterans
The Office of General Counsel provide legal assistance to disabled veterans. To seek assistance on a legal matter, the veteran may contact the legal services provider in their area. These sources can provide assistance via phone or email for faster communication.
Challenges for Disabled Veterans Facing Eviction
Receiving a court order from a housing court can have affect the mental and physical health of anyone, including veterans. Becoming homeless can impact anyone’s overall wellbeing. Struggling with an eviction case can also dry up one’s finances, leading to financial struggles. Moreover, not all veterans are aware of the housing options that are available to them. Thus, they may not even be aware that the government has an answer to homelessness.
Disabled veterans are a very vulnerable group, and they need all the help they can get to live with dignity and safely. Fortunately, there are resources in place that can help them seek temporary shelter or even a permanent one, albeit in modest areas.