Montana Eviction Laws

Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Montana and understand their responsibilities.

Quick Facts for Montana

  • Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, violation of lease terms, illegal activity, destruction of or allowing unauthorized persons/pets on the property
  • Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 3-Day Notice to Pay
  • Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 7- and 30-Day Notice to Quit for weekly and monthly tenants, respectively
  • Notice Required for Lease Violations: 24 hours at least and 14 days at most, depending on gravity of violation
  • Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 3 days, via Notice to Quit

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Montana?

The amount of time it takes to evict a tenant may vary a great deal in the state of Montana. This is largely due to the difference in the amount of notice a landlord must provide a tenant to vacate a property before he/she may proceed with the eviction process.

When the tenant has breached an aspect of the lease or rental agreement, the amount of notice required is fairly nominal. In these cases, the landlord must allow the tenant to correct the breach with a 3-Day Notice. When the tenant has no recourse but to move from the property, the amount of time provided in the notice may vary from five to 30 days.

A second variable that will have a huge impact on the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant is the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction  process.

Reasons for Eviction in Montana

Each state establishes a set of reasons it considers legitimate cause for a landlord to seek an eviction. In the state of Montana, a landlord may evict a tenant for:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement
  • Illegal activity
  • Destruction of property
  • Allowing unauthorized individuals or pets on the property

Before a landlord may proceed with the eviction process, he/she must generally provide the tenant with written notice of the issue leading him/her to seek an eviction. When the situation is failure to pay rent or a minor violation of the terms of the lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written 3-Day Notice providing the tenant an opportunity to correct the issue before he/she may proceed with the eviction process. These notices may be:

  • Personally delivered to the tenant
  • Posted on the property door
  • Mailed to the tenant

Unless the issue has been remedied, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court once the notice has expired. When the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with the opportunity to remedy the cause he/she is seeking an eviction, a written Notice to Quit must be provided. The amount of time allowed in the notice will vary due to the reason the eviction is sought. Regardless of the reason for the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process once the notice has expired by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent

In the state of Montana, when a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must provide him/her with a written
3-Day Notice to Pay
before proceeding with the eviction process (M.C.A. 70-24-422). If the tenant fails to pay the outstanding rent in full within three days, the landlord may terminate the rental arrangement and proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Eviction if Rent has Been Paid

In the state of Montana, a landlord may seek to evict an “at-will” tenant (any tenant who rents property without benefit of a written lease) without cause. Before he/she may proceed with the eviction process, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written Notice to Quit. When the “at-will” tenant is renting on a weekly basis, the landlord is required to provide a 7-Day Notice to Quit. A 30-Day Notice to Quit is required for a month-to-month “at will” tenant.

Read more about tenants at will here.

If the tenant should remain on the rental property after the amount of time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease

In the state of Montana, a landlord must provide his/her tenant with time to correct a fixable violation to the terms of the lease or rental agreement (M.C.A. 70-24-422). The violation will dictate the amount of time the landlord is required to offer for correction of the issue. The landlord is required to allow:

  • 3 Days to cure for unauthorized pets or guests
  • 24 Hours to allow access or 14 days to vacate
  • 24 Hours to fix locks removed, changed, or added without permission or 14 days to  vacate
  • 3 Days to repair damage to property
  • 14 Days to cure or vacate all other fixable violations

If the tenant fails to remedy the issue within the amount of time allowed and remains on the rental property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

When the landlord is not required to offer the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation, he/she must follow the laws regarding notice to the tenant. The landlord is required to provide:

  • No notice when the tenant has sublet or abandoned the property
  • 3-Day Notice to Quit when the tenant is charged with gang-related activities or the production of illegal drugs
  • 5-Day Notice to Quit when a tenant repeats a violation within six months

If the tenant fails to vacate the property in the amount of time allowed, the tenant may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior

In the state of Montana, a landlord may evict a tenant for participating in illegal behavior once the tenant has been charged. If a tenant is charged with production of illegal drugs or gang-related activity, the landlord must provide a written 3-Day Notice to Quit (M.C.A. 70-24-422). If the tenant fails to move within the three days provided, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?

A landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant in the state of Montana so long as he/she has first provided the appropriate written notice. When dealing with a weekly “at-will” tenant, a landlord is required to provide a written 7-Day Notice to Quit (M.C.A. 70-24-441(1)). When dealing with a month-to-month “at-will” tenant, the landlord is required to provide a written 30-Day Notice to Quit (M.C.A. 70-24-441(2)). If the tenant remains on the rental property after the time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Montana?

In the state of Montana, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for filing a complaint about the property with a government agency by filing for an eviction. It is also illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant because of his/her age, race, color, religion, nation of origin, sex, familial status, or disability status.

Once a Summons and Complaint is Filed

The landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the City Court, Municipal Court, District Court, or Justice Court. He/she must file a Request to Serve at the same time to have the tenant properly served by the sheriff. The tenant has 10 days to provide his/her answer to the court. If the tenant fails to answer the complaint, the landlord may receive a default judgment from the court. If the tenant does respond, the court will set a hearing. This hearing must be within 20 days of the initial filing.

Both sides will be allowed time to provide evidence. Ultimately, the judge will decide whether the tenant must vacate the premises, the amount of time the tenant may have before vacating the property, and any damages due.

Once Eviction Occurs

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the landlord may apply for a Writ of Assistance to get the sheriff to physically remove the tenant. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the court may require the tenant to pay up to three times the rent or triple the amount of damages. The tenant may also be required to pay the landlord’s attorney fees.

Make sure to read the Montana Code Annotated § 70-24-422, 70-24-430 & 70-24-441 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.

Eviction Process in Other States

Other Resources for Montana Landlords & Tenants