Portman, senators unveil bill to protect surviving military spouses

Published 12:21 pm Sunday, July 22, 2018

Legislation would allow spouses to break jointly held residential leases

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio,, Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and Doug Jones, D-Alabama, introduced the bipartisan Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act on Thursday.

The legislation would modify the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to allow a widow or widower of a servicemember who died while in military service to terminate a jointly held residential lease, without penalty, within one year of the servicemember’s death.

“A grieving military spouse dealing with the death of their loved one on active duty should be able to end their lease without paying high termination fees,” Portman said in a news release.  “This bill, with the support of numerous veterans groups and the Department of Defense, is a commonsense fix for Gold Star spouses. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to join me in supporting this legislation to provide relief for our Gold Star spouses.”

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Currently, when a servicemember receives military orders, his or her spouse is often required to relocate and then sign a lease for a house, apartment, or other dwelling. But when the servicemember dies during military service, the surviving spouse may be forced to pay off the remainder of that residential lease even though the couple only entered into that contract to accommodate the servicemember’s assignment.

The Gold Star Spouses Leasing Relief Act is also supported by The American Legion, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and the National Military Family Association (NMFA).