Holloman legal office upholds Airman’s rights

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bob Teichmann
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Air Force bases and other military installations offer a variety of services for their personnel. For one Airman, the legal office was able to provide assistance with a difficult landlord situation.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stacie Trujillo, a crew chief with the 49th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, found herself in a situation that would require her to terminate the lease agreement of her Alamogordo, New Mexico home. She believed service members were allowed to do so, depending on the circumstances. Her landlord, however, felt differently.

“She said I would have to pay the remainder of the monetary obligation whether I lived there or not,” Trujillo said.

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003, personnel who receive permanent change of station, deployment, retirement, or separation orders are allowed to terminate their residential lease agreement. If the service member provides proper notice and a copy of their orders, the lease will terminate 30 days after their next rent payment due date.

Trujillo sought help from Holloman’s legal office. While not familiar with the various options available to her, she hoped the expertise of the personnel there would help her get through a difficult situation.

“I sat down and drafted a very pleasant letter where we walked down the text of the statute line by line,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Duncan Taylor, 49th Wing Judge Advocate chief of legal assistance and operations law and Trujillo’s council. “I think every sentence ended with a citation to the federal statute.”

If businesses take advantage of military members, they can be added to various lists of predatory or unlawful organizations that servicemembers should avoid.

“It’s important to bring awareness to what this office can do for service members who are given a really difficult time,” Trujillo said. “I felt like I was completely backed into a corner by my landlord, and it turns out that was very much not the case. I didn’t honestly, at the time, know that I had options and just how protected I was.”

In addition to providing members extra protections with rental or lease agreements, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects against property repossession, default judgements in civil cases, home foreclosure, and pre-service loan interest rates.

Holloman’s legal office can also assist with a variety of other legal matters such as notary, consumer fraud, domestic relations, drafting powers of attorney, providing advice on immigration and naturalization, and more.

The Holloman legal office can be reached at (575) 572-7217 to answer questions and make appointments.