A private real estate firm that specializes in providing housing to active-duty servicemembers will pay $200,000 to settle claims it unlawfully evicted several of them, according to the terms of a proposed settlement released Wednesday, August 10, by the Department of Justice.
Lincoln Military Housing, which advertises 62 rental developments aimed at those stationed at one of San Diego's three military bases, is accused of illegally obtaining summary judgments against and evicting several Southern California military families in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
According to the Department of Justice: "Under the [Act], if a tenant who is on active duty is sued for eviction and does not make an appearance in the case for any reason, the landlord must file an affidavit with the court stating whether the tenant is in military service, showing necessary facts to support the affidavit. To evict a tenant in California, a landlord must first obtain a court order."
Lincoln stands accused of failing to file these affidavits before seeking judgments, or of filing affidavits stating that tenants were not active-duty military when in fact they were. Pending approval by a federal district court, the company will pay $35,000 to each wrongfully evicted servicemember in addition to a $60,000 civil penalty and an agreement to "make systemic changes to its business practices," including providing training on housing law and the military to its employees.