Members of a military family trying to get out of their lease at a Pasco apartment complex say they are making progress.
Andrew Thai, whose wife Sarah is joining the Air Force, said The Crossing at Chapel Hill off Road 68 is now allowing the family to get out of its lease Aug. 27 when she reports for active duty.
But they would still need to pay rent for August, after giving their 30-day notice on July 3.
Apartment management previously asked the family to pay rent for August and September, on top of July, he said. The family moved out of The Crossing in late July and would have had to pay $2,400 for time they weren't living there.
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"They have backed down a little bit," Andrew Thai said.
But the Thais still feel they shouldn't have to pay rent for August. Sarah Thai said an Air Force attorney is negotiating with lawyers from The Crossing's parent company, Bach Property Management of Draper, Utah.
Apartment manager Kasey McComas did not return calls from the Herald for comment on this story. She has said that because Sarah Thai has not yet reported for active duty, the complex is not required to allow her to leave on 30 days notice, which is required by the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
A San Antonio-based Air Force recruiting spokesman, 1st Lt. Nick Kim, agreed with McComas. Thai is not eligible to be protected by the law until she is active duty, she said.
"If a lease does not allow a tenant to terminate before the end of the contract date, then the landlord has not broken the law," Kim told the Herald.
But former Franklin County Prosecutor Jim Rabideau said a separate section of federal law protects reservists and delayed entrants like Sarah Thai. That means they shouldn't have to pay August rent.
Sarah Thai said the Air Force attorney has located a Washington state law protecting reservists who are moving out of apartments. She is also protected by a state law that allows anyone to move out of an apartment after giving 20 days notice, she added.
"It's a waiting game between the lawyers," she said.
Still, the Thais will be OK if they have to pay August rent, Sarah Thai said.
"We were mostly concerned about September," she said.
Sarah Thai provided The Crossing management with copies of her military orders, she said. One is a copy of a delayed entry program form she signed Jan. 17 when she joined the Air Force. The other showed she is to report for active duty Aug. 27 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The Thai family -- including Mikalah, 4, and Ryder, 18 months -- are staying with Andrew Thai's family in West Richland. Andrew, a Marine veteran, and the kids plan to move to Texas a few weeks after Sarah leaves for basic training.
Kim advised active duty Air Force members to review their housing agreements carefully.
"If they have questions or wish to have a legal assistance attorney look over a lease agreement before they sign it, we encourage them to visit their base legal office for assistance," he said.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom