Federal law requires the landlord to file an affidavit with the court that the tenant is not on active duty service in the US Armed Forces when the tenant has not filed an appearance in order to enter a default. Up until recently it was acceptable for the landlord to file an affidavit that merely stated “of my own personal knowledge, the defendant is not on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.”
The requirement is imposed by Federal law under the “service Members Civil Relief Act 50 U.S. C. §521 . “Protection of service members against default judgments.” This requires the plaintiff in a lawsuit to file an affidavit stating whether or not the defendant is in military service and showing necessary facts to support the affidavit. The requirement for an affidavit may be satisfied by a statement, declaration, verification, or certificate, in writing, subscribed and certified or declared to be true under penalty of perjury.
The court in Florida, now require the landlord to articulate the facts upon which the statement that the tenant is not active duty military is based.
The Palm Beach Clerk of Court in Service Packet #47 (revised 10/20/2010) provides that the requirements for an “Affidavit of Military Status” may be fulfilled in one of four ways:
1) A sworn affidavit from the plaintiff landlord articulating facts that would be admissible in evidence.
2) A written admission from the defendant tenant.
3) An online certificate obtained from https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/scraHome.do (requires defendant name, social security number and date of birth). There is no charge and you can print out the certificate directly from the website. If you do not know this information, you may have to skip trace your tenant. Note: this website does not work on the google web browser, you must use internet explorer or firefox. If you get a warning about the security certificate, dont worry. This is because your computer did not come with the Department of Defense Security Plug-in already installed. You can ignore the warning and proceed to the site. The site also has instructions for getting the certificate.
4) Obtain certificates by regular mail from each branch of service @ $5.20 each + SASE . This also requests tenant social security number and date of birth and is so impractical compared to the other choices I am not even going to bother listing the mailing addresses of all of the branches of service.
You can not prosecute an uncontested eviction without a “Non-Military Affidavit! Get your tenant’s date of birth and social security number if you don’t already have it on file. You should be taking written applications and getting photo copies of the tenant’s identification anyway! A background check is always strongly recommended. Background checks can also include a verification of identity and confirmation of social security number. You may also want to get the tenant to sign a “Non-Military Affidavit” and keep it on file. You can also add a provision to your lease stating [ ] I am [ ] I am not on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.