Families of fallen service members now have one less burden when mourning the loss of their loved one. A new law allows more flexibility to such families in terms of real estate leases. The legislation, which was introduced by Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) allows surviving families to terminate their lease without penalty when their loved one is killed in action.
Rep. Unes vowed to assist military families after he met Kylie Riney, the widow of fallen soldier Sgt. Douglas Riney. She and her two young children needed to move back to Illinois from Texas after her husband was killed in action but her landlord required her to pay penalties for early termination of the lease. The restrictions ultimately led to a weeks-long separation between Kylie and her two young children in the immediate aftermath of their father’s death, a time when the family support system is so important.
“The goal of this legislation has been to ensure what happened to the Riney family will never happen to a Gold Star family in Illinois,” said Rep. Unes. “All members of our nation’s military and their families deserve the highest level of care and compassion in every circumstance, and I am proud to do what I can to make sure that we are upholding that standard.”
Under current law, families are permitted to terminate a residential lease without penalty when a servicemember is deployed. However, it does not allow for the same option when a servicemember is killed in action, causing the family additional hardship.
Nearly 55,000 Illinois residents currently serve our country in the military, ranking Illinois 13th in the number of residents serving our nation. Not only do thousands of military members call Illinois home, so do their families. Oftentimes those families are required to move to an Illinois community to accommodate the service member’s assignment and renting can be an easy and flexible solution for them. Rep. Unes summarized his thoughts by saying, “This legislation is the right thing to do for those families who have made the greatest of sacrifices.”