Montana Landlord Responsibilities for Habitability
May 27, 2023
Most places, including Montana, make a landlord responsible for the “habitability” of rental property. This means rental properties must be kept in proper condition to use for their intended purpose. Habitability is an important right for renters, but can be complicated because of details and differences in habitability requirements.
Montana Implied Warranty of Habitability
In Montana, the implied warranty of habitability means that a landlord must provide and maintain safe and habitable rental property. “Implied” means the requirement applies whether or not the lease agreement specifically says so and even if the lease tries to waive the obligation.
Examples of clear habitability violations include:
Exposed electrical wiring.
A pipe leaking human waste.
A broken front doorknob that won’t lock.
However, the implied warranty of habitability does not guarantee that anything at the property will be pretty, clean, new or issue-free, so it doesn’t cover things like stained carpet or dents in a wall. It only guarantees basic health and safety.
Landlord Responsibilities in Montana
Note: Check local city/county laws and ordinances for additional requirements. Additionally, the landlord and tenant cansometimes make a special agreementto change the usual legal responsibilities.
Landlord Responsibilities for Heating & Air Conditioning in Montana
Montana landlords mustprovide heatingfor rental properties between October 1 and May 1 of every year. They don’t have to provide air conditioning, but they do have to keep it in working order if it’s provided.
Are Landlords Required to Provide Air Filter Replacements in Montana?
Montana landlordsdon’t have to replace things like air filters,unless provided heating or ventilating equipment won’t work otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities for Plumbing in Montana
Montana landlords mustkeep plumbing in reasonable working condition,although the renter is usually equally responsible for using the plumbing in a reasonable and sanitary way that doesn’t cause damage.
Are Landlords Required To Provide Hot Water in Montana?
Montana landlords mustprovide and maintain running heated waterfor rental properties.
Are Landlords Responsible for Fixing Clogged Drains & Toilets in Montana?
Montana landlords mustfix clogs that keep the plumbing from being in reasonable working condition.
Are Landlords in Montana Responsible for Fixing Leaks?
Montana landlords mustfix leaks that keep the plumbing from being in reasonable working condition.
Landlord Responsibilities for Kitchen Appliances in Montana
Montana landlordsdon’t have to provide or maintain kitchen appliancessuch as a dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, or refrigerator. However, when provided, the landlord has to maintain such appliances in good working order.
Landlord Responsibilities for Electrical Issues in Montana
Montana landlords are responsible formaking sure there are no electrical issues that endanger basic safety or habitabilityon the rental property.
Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Light Bulbs in Montana?
Montana landlords arenot responsible for replacing light bulbsor particular light fixtures, except as necessary to maintain appliances they’ve provided on the property.
Landlord Responsibilities for Garbage Removal in Montana
Montana landlords mustprovide and maintain outside garbage containers and garbage removal services.
Landlord Responsibilities for Landscaping in Montana
Montana landlords haveno specific obligation to provide landscapingor maintain it with actions like cutting grass. They only have to deal with issues like fallen trees if they interfere with the cleanliness of common areas, violate local codes, or create a hazard to health and safety.
Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Mold in Montana
Montana landlords areresponsible for most mold issues.While there’s no Montana requirement for testing, landlords must investigate and fix mold problems since they threaten health and safety. If the renter created the mold issue, the landlord can make the renter fix it, or pay for repairs.
Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Pests in Montana
Montana landlords are responsible forfixing pest issues the renter didn’t cause,including rats, roaches, mice, bed bugs, and ants.
Landlord Responsibilities for Windows & Window Coverings in Montana
Montana landlords haveno specific responsibilitiesrelating to windows and window coverings, other than whatever’s needed for basic habitability. The landlord has to repair broken windows the tenant didn’t cause, since this is a health and safety issue.
Landlord Responsibilities Regarding Safety Devices in Montana
Montana landlords are responsible forensuring required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are installedat the beginning of a tenancy.
Are Landlords Responsible for Replacing Batteries of Safety Devices in Montana?
Montana landlords haveno specific responsibility to replace safety device batteries.If there are working smoke detectors at the beginning of the tenancy, the landlord has completed his legal obligation.
Landlord Responsibilities for Washers and Dryers in Montana
Montana landlords arenot required to furnishtheir rental properties with a working washer and dryer. However, if provided, the landlord must maintain such appliances in good working order.
Renter’s Rights for Repairs in Montana
Montana renters have theright to repairs for issues that affect health and safety,unless they caused the issue themselves. To exercise their right, the renter must start by notifying the landlord of the issue in writing. The landlord gets14 daysafter notice to fix the issue.
If the issue isn’t fixed within the legally required time, the renter canend the rental agreement,repair and deductthe cost from rent, or ask a court toorder repairs or compensation.Rent withholding isn’t allowed.
“Subject to 27-1-1603 [limitation of liability in COVID-19 cases except for gross negligence or intentional tort], a landlord: (a) shall comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety in effect at the time of original construction in all dwelling units where construction is completed after July 1, 1977; (b) shall make repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition, except when it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the dwelling unit pursuant to 70-24-321 [tenant responsibilities]; [and] (c) shall keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.”
“(3) A landlord and tenant may agree in writing that the tenant perform the landlord’s duties specified in subsections (1)(e) and (1)(f) [trash, heating, hot water] and specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alteration, and remodeling but only if the transaction is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord.
“(4) A landlord and tenant may agree that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling only if: (a) the agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord and is set forth in a separate writing signed by the parties and supported by adequate consideration; (b) the work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with subsection (1)(a) [code compliance]; and (c) the agreement does not diminish the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises.”
“[A landlord] (d) shall maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord; (e) shall, unless otherwise provided in a rental agreement, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal; [and] (f) shall supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1, except if the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant.”
“A tenant shall: (a) comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety; (b) keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as reasonably clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits; (c) dispose from the dwelling unit all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a clean and safe manner; (d) keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits; (e) use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises; [and] (f) conduct oneself and require other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent to conduct themselves in a manner, that will not disturb the tenant’s neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.”
“If there is noncompliance by the tenant with 70-24-321 [tenant’s responsibilities] affecting health and safety that can be remedied by repair, replacement of a damaged item, or cleaning and the tenant fails to comply as promptly as conditions require in case of emergency or within 14 days after written notice by the landlord specifying the breach and requesting that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit and cause the work to be done in a workmanlike manner and submit an itemized bill for the actual and reasonable cost, the fair and reasonable cost, or the fair and reasonable value thereof as rent on the next date periodic rent is due or, if the rental agreement has terminated, for immediate payment.”
“[A landlord] shall install in each dwelling unit under the landlord’s control an approved carbon monoxide detector, in accordance with rules adopted by the department of labor and industry, and an approved smoke detector, in accordance with rules adopted by the department of justice. Upon commencement of a rental agreement, the landlord shall verify that the carbon monoxide detector and the smoke detector in the dwelling unit are in good working order. The tenant shall maintain the carbon monoxide detector and the smoke detector in good working order during the tenant’s rental period. For the purposes of this subsection (1)(g), an approved carbon monoxide detector, as defined in 70-20-113, and an approved smoke detector, as defined in 70-20-113, bear a label or other identification issued by an approved testing agency having a service for inspection of materials and workmanship at the factory during fabrication and assembly.”
“Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a noncompliance with 70-24-303 [landlord maintenance responsibilities] affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in 14 days. If the noncompliance results in a case of emergency and the landlord fails to remedy the situation within 3 working days after written notice by the tenant of the situation and the tenant’s intention to terminate the rental agreement, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.”
“The rental agreement terminates as provided in the [tenant’s] notice subject to the following exceptions: (i) if the breach is remediable by repairs, the payment of damages, or otherwise and the landlord adequately remedies the breach before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement does not terminate by reason of the breach; (ii) if substantially the same act or omission which constituted a prior noncompliance of which notice was given recurs within 6 months, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement upon at least 14 days’ written notice specifying the breach and the date of termination of the rental agreement; (iii) the tenant may not terminate for a condition caused by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent.”
“Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a noncompliance with 70-24-303 [landlord maintenance responsibilities] affecting health and safety, the tenant may make repairs that do not cost more than 1 month’s rent and deduct the cost from the rent if the tenant has given the landlord notice and the landlord has not made the repairs within a reasonable time. If the repair is required in a case of emergency and the landlord has not made the repairs, the tenant may have repairs made only by a person qualified to make the repairs.”
“(2) Except as provided in this chapter, the tenant may recover actual damages and obtain injunctive relief for any noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or 70-24-303 [landlord maintenance responsibilities].
“(3) The remedy provided in subsection (2) of this section is in addition to a right of the tenant arising under subsection (1) [canceling lease + repair/deduct].”