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Mitigating Rental and Personal Property Liability

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Mendel Avtzon
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Legal

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The shift to colder and more extreme weather may have an undesired impact on your housing and the personal property that you own. The legal office wants to help you protect yourself in the event your property is damaged.

Renter’s Insurance: If you don’t have renter’s insurance, we suggest getting a policy as soon as possible. It takes less than 10 minutes and can cost you as little as $10 per month. A policy will reimburse you for both damage to your rental property and your personal possessions. It is a quick and safe safeguard to save a lot of time, aggravation, and money. We cannot endorse any company, but a quick search will provide many options that can work best for where you live. Many leases may not require a renter’s insurance policy, that should not stop you from protecting your belongings and your bank account!

Conversation: Before pursuing formal complaints against your landlord, first reach out and engage in respectful conversation. You may be surprised at how you may be able to agree to a reasonable resolution without a fight. Gather your thoughts, be clear in what you are asking for, and have a proposed timeline in mind. Litigation is unpleasant for everyone, and you may find that your landlord is more willing to work with you if you show a willingness to work with them.

Know Your Lease: Each lease agreement is different, so there is no blanket rule that provides an answer to all property damage situations. Reviewing your signed lease and understanding your rights and responsibilities contained therein is a good starting point for knowing what you need to do to not be liable and what you might be entitled to. Finally, while the language of the lease is important, depending on your state, certain types of one-sided or punitive contract terms may not be legal. The legal office can help you review these terms if you run into any issues.

State Laws: Once you’ve considered all the above, there are state laws that may allow for you to pursue claims or withhold rent from your landlord until they are willing to fix the damage in your house to make it a livable dwelling. In most cases, your personal property will not be covered, hence, the renter’s insurance suggestion.

On Base Housing: If you live on a military base, you may enjoy additional legal protections, but may also be subject to certain other rules and procedures you need to follow.

SCRA: Unrelated to property damage, with PCS orders coming out, know you have certain tenant rights as a moving service member. This includes the ability to terminate your lease if you give your landlord 30-days’ notice and provide a copy of your orders. Review these rights early, so you know how to best approach your PCS move!

JA Legal Assistance: If you continue to need related legal help or have questions, please feel free to reach out to the base legal office to schedule a legal assistance appointment with one of our attorneys and we’d be glad to help! Our front desk line is (618) 256-3542 or you can visit our website at

Stay warm and keep your beloved property protected!