© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Feds order Hampton Roads company to pay sailor for violating military housing law

Community gathers peer side for Fleet Week in Norfolk. Oct. 21, 2023. Department of Defense
Community gathers peer side for Fleet Week in Norfolk. Oct. 21, 2023. Department of Defense

The U.S. Department of Justice settled with Redsail Property Management, who had to pay a $10,225.65 and a $3,000 civil penalty for violating the Servicemen's Civil Relief Act. 

In August 2018, a sailor had to pay a $3,408.55 early termination fee to break his lease when he received orders from the Navy which required him to move from outside Norfolk to Virginia Beach to be close to his new assignment at Dam Neck Naval Base. 

Federal law allows sailors to break their lease if they are ordered to change stations even if they are relocating within the region. There is no minimum number of miles under the federal law, says Kelly Hruska, with the National Military Family Association.

“If they feel they need to move to be closer to their job, then they should be able to do that, especially if, you know, orders have changed their circumstances, without penalty.”

Newport News-based Redsail claimed they were following Virginia law. The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does list 35 miles as a trigger for allowing service members to terminate their leases. Similar language is placed in leases throughout Virginia, said Brian McGowan, company spokesman. 

Redsail manages the leases for 380 single-family units throughout Hampton Roads, a majority of both the company’s clients and homeowners are military or former military, he said. 

“I'm not somebody trying to take advantage of our military. We like to serve our military here,” he said.

McGowan said the company has removed the language from its lease agreements. As part of the consent decree, the company is required to train its employees on the Servicemen's Civil Relief Act and refrain from applying the state provision in the future. 

The Servicemen's Civil Relief Act covers a wide range of financial penalties, including giving service members the right to cancel cell phone contracts when they are scheduled to deploy overseas, Hruska said.

“Sadly, I think these issues come up more often than not. As much as the services try to remind service members of their rights, I think a lot of service members forget there's an awful lot going on when they are moving,” she said. 

If a service member believes they have been defrauded, she recommends the person contact the Judge Advocate General’s office on base or speak with their command. 

Steve joined WHRO in 2023 to cover military and veterans. Steve has extensive experience covering the military and working in public media, most recently at KPBS in San Diego, WYIN in Gary, Indiana and WBEZ in Chicago. In the early 2000s, he embedded with members of the Indiana National Guard in Kuwait and Iraq. Steve reports for NPR’s American Homefront Project, a national public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Steve is also on the board of Military Reporters & Editors.

The world changes fast.

Keep up with daily local news from WHRO. Get local news every weekday in your inbox.

Sign-up here.