In what may be the first federal court decision of its kind, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held that email notice can be valid to terminate a residential lease under the Servicemembers Relief Act.
In Oluwasegun Abiodun Oyedeji v. Landmark at Bella Viata, L.P., et al., Plaintiff, a Logistics Specialist in the United States Naval Reserve, provided written notice via email to his landlord that he was being deployed and that he needed to terminate his lease. The landlord rejected the notice and prepared a Move -out Statement, dunning Plaintiff for, among other things, 30 days short on notice to vacate and a reletting fee. It also hired a debt collector to try to collect the debt from Plaintiff.
Section 3955(c) of the Servicemembers Relief Act contains situations in which a servicemember can validly terminate a residential lease, and Section 3955(c)(2) contains the methods of delivery of the notice required under Section 3955(c). Notably, Section 3955(c)(2) does not explicitly mention email as an acceptable delivery method. In finding that email can be an acceptable method for notice, the District Court looked to the statutory language and found that the list of delivery methods was not exclusive. It also found that "there is no principled reason why emailing a notice to the landlord would be insufficient." Based on this reasoning, the District Court denied the landlord's motion to dismiss.
The decision can be found at docket number 29 in Civil Action Number 1:20-cv-04512-CC-WEJ. Jeff Sand and Andrew Weiner with Weiner & Sand LLC represent Plaintiff in the case, along with Michael Cardoza with The Cardoza Law Corporation.