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7/12/2013 New law allows service members easier exit from auto, apartment leases
STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma and Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. to help active service members exit automobile and housing leases when they are moved to a different station or deployed has become law.

The legislation (2013-S 0042A, 2013-H 5165B), signed into law by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee yesterday, will allow a service member who is moved to a different base or is deployed for a period of more than 180 days to unilaterally terminate a motor vehicle lease on a vehicle intended for use by the service member or a dependent by providing a copy of his or her order or a letter signed by his or her commanding officer and returning the vehicle, without paying a penalty.

With the same documentation, a service member who is moved or deployed for more than 90 days will be able to terminate a housing rental agreement, effective 30 days after the lessee provides the notice, without an early termination fee.

“In practical terms, service members and members of the National Guard or Reserves need a way to leave a lease on little notice, since they are so often called up to action without much warning, or are moved from one base to another. But this is more than just a practical matter. As the men and women who defend our country, they deserve special consideration and they and their families should not be put at financial risk as a direct result of their service to our nation,” said Senator DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton.)

Said Representative Gallison (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), who is chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “The men and women who serve our country in the military make many sacrifices. One of those sacrifices is that they are very frequently asked to uproot their lives and their families. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice thousands of dollars and possibly their credit each time that happens. At least here in Rhode Island, we can give them a break and say if they have to leave, they won’t be stuck with a lease they can’t break cleanly.”

The two legislators introduced the legislation at the request of Capt. Douglas Mikatarian, the Commanding Officer at Naval Station Newport, who asked for it to protect service members from financial difficulties when they are moved or deployed.

“This is all about taking care of our young service members who, through no fault of their own, could be faced with paying up to two months’ rent on a home or apartment in which they no longer live. We are not talking about service members who simply choose to switch apartments, these are men and women, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, who are being ordered to move in support of our nation’s defense,” said Captain Mikatarian.

Cosponsors of the measure include Senate Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Christopher Scott Ottiano (R-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol), Sen. Juan M. Pichardo (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) in the Senate; and Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket), Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) and Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) in the House.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923