Relief Act Only for Pre-Active Duty Debt

American Forces Press Service /bylines

news-article WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2001 -- The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act will lower military members' mortgage interest to 6 percent -- but only if the loan existed before the member came on active duty.

Mel Martinez, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, joined Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Sept. 24 to remind affected lenders of their obligations under the 1940 law. For the most part, their reminder was on the behalf of Guard and Reserve members called to active duty.

The law's relief provisions apply to existing debts when members come on active duty. The law has no effect on debt incurred while on active duty.

The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act prohibits lenders from foreclosing against any military personnel during and immediately following their tour of active duty, Martinez said. Military renters cannot be evicted from their property and may terminate leases without penalty if doing so is in their own interests.

HUD officials advise affected Guard and Reserve members on active duty to contact their lenders immediately to take advantage of the mortgage rate cap. The act prohibits any mortgage lender from initiating foreclosure action against persons in military service while on active duty and three months thereafter without court approval or an agreement between the parties.

More than 30,000 reserve component service members have already been called up under a presidential order signed Sept. 14.

Martinez advised affected military personnel to call a new toll-free number, (888) 297-8685, for more information or to visit the HUD Web site.

The American Forces Information Service maintains more detailed special discussions of Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act provisions