Legal loopholes that leave New Jersey veterans vulnerable in housing and finance matters would be sealed, if a shore-sponsored state measure becomes law.

flickr, 401 (K) 2013
flickr, 401 (K) 2013

The New Jersey Servicemember's Relief Act (S-2839) would reconcile the differences between state and federal laws applying to rental agreements, prepaid rent, security deposits, eviction, credit card payments and interest rates, and mortgage foreclosure.

Forked River-based Senator Chris Connors sponsors the bill along with Assembly members DiAnne Gove and Brian Rumpf (R-9). Connors has a seat on the state Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Their proposal would repeal the New Jersey Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act of 1979, replacing it with a measure that offers a broader definition of the individuals it's designed to protect. It follows on the heels of their newly-enacted law that prohibits permanent custody changes during a military member's deployment.

Key provisions build in protections and relief in situations affected by absence resulting from military service, including default judgements, contractual obligations, liens for storage, repair and cleaning of property, life insurance, health insurance, and professional liability insurance; an interest ceiling of six percent on debts amassed before military service; and reservation of federally-guaranteed land rights.

Rumpf says that the protection gaps are becoming more glaring as more men and women in uniform return stateside.

"Unquestionably, we have a serious obligation to provide legal protections to accomodate servicemembers who may be prevented from resolving matters...due to the tremendous demands of military service that can include overseas deployment," Rumpf said in a prepared statement.

Gove, a member of the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee, added that active military personnel  have enough occupying their attentions without the added worry of money matters at home.

"Equally important," she continued, "the legislation's key provisions are intended to deter unscrupulous persons from trying to take advantage of servicemembers' deployment" by trying to defraud them or trample their rights.

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