row feetThe Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was created to help relieve or suspend the financial burdens placed upon those serving in the U.S. military. One of the key protections afforded by the SCRA is a temporary stay of proceedings to enforce certain mortgage debts or other secured debts. In order to qualify for this protection, the debt must have been originated before the period of the servicemember’s military service.

Section 303 of the SCRA generally prohibits the foreclosure, seizure, or sale of secured property to enforce a debt during the servicemember’s military service. This prohibition may be overridden by a court order or a waiver by the servicemember. The grace period allows the servicemember to focus on his or her service in the military, which is often performed overseas and under stressful conditions, without the additional worry caused by a default of the debt obligation. And just as the effects of the stress of service do not necessarily end on the last day of service, so too do the protections of Section 303.

The Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-286) has extended the post-service period of protection from 90 days to one year. That is, a creditor may not foreclose, sell, or seize secured property for one year after the period of military service ends. If Congress does not act prior to December 31, 2015, this post-service protection end will revert back to 90 days, beginning January 1, 2016.