Montana Landlord Tenant Rights

Montana Landlord Tenant Rights

Last Updated: January 7, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

In Montana, a rental agreement is valid when a person pays rent in exchange for living at a property. According to Montana law, (Montana Code Tit. 70 Ch. 24) this relationship automatically gives rights to the tenants, such as the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to due process before eviction.

Landlords have rights too, including the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to evict tenants due to any violations to the lease.

Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.

Questions? To chat with a Montana landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Landlord Responsibilities in Montana

In Montana, landlords are required to keep rented units in a safe and habitable condition and perform requested repairs within 14 days. If they do not, tenants have the right to take at least one form of alternative action: they can make the repairs and deduct the cost from the following month’s rent (as long as it costs less than one month’s rent).

Here is a list of essential amenities that landlords are or are not responsible for.

Item Landlord Responsibility?
Dwelling structures Yes
Heating Yes
Water Yes
Electricity Yes
Plumbing/sanitation Yes
Smoke detectors Yes
Ventilation Yes
Carbon monoxide detectors Yes
Mold Yes
Bed bugs

Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their housing rights.

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Tenant Responsibilities in Montana

Apart from paying rent in a timely manner and abiding by the terms of the lease, Montana tenants must:

  • Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition.
  • Remove garbage and keep fixtures clean.
  • Make small repairs and minor maintenance.
  • Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.

Evictions in Montana

Landlords in Montana may evict tenants for any of the following reasons:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent, then the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay after any applicable grace period. If the tenant does not pay, then the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.
  2. Lease Violation – In the case of a lease violation of an unauthorized pet or unauthorized people the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. If there is property damage, a reasonable threat of damage or verbal abuse a landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If there is a violation that is not listed, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate.
  3. No Lease/ End of Lease– If a tenant stays in the dwelling unit past their rental term, a landlord may provide the tenant with a notice to quit. The notice depends on the type of tenancy.
    • Week-to-Week – 7-Day Notice to Quit.
    • Month-to-Month – 30-Day Notice to Quit.
    • Fixed Term Lease – If there is a fixed-term lease (a lease with a specific end date), the landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice.
  4. Material Health/ Safety Violation – If a tenant violates a building, housing, safety or health code the landlord may issue a 14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate.
  5. Illegal Acts – Montana landlords have broad authority to determine which types of illegal activities warrant eviction. The landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not vacate the premises, then the landlord can file for eviction.

Montana landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation or as a form of discrimination.

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Security Deposits in Montana

  • Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – None.
  • Time Limit for Returns – 30 days.
  • Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a landlord wrongfully withholds rent, then they may be required to pay up to twice to original values as a penalty.
  • Allowable Deductions – Missed rental payments, repairs for damages that exceed wear and tear.

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Lease Termination in Montana

Notice requirements. Tenants on a periodic lease in Montana who wish to break lease must give the following amounts of advanced notice.

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Needed
Week-to-Week 7 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days
Quarter-to-Quarter No statute
Year-to-Year No statute
Questions? To chat with a Montana landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Early termination. Montana tenants may legally break a lease early for the following reasons.

  1. Early termination clause
  2. Active military duty
  3. Uninhabitable unit
  4. Landlord harassment

Montana tenants who break a lease early may still be required to pay out the remainder of the term. Landlords are legally obligated to facilitate the re-renting process.

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Rent Increases & Related Fees in Montana

  • Rent control. Rent control policies are neither enforced nor preempted by Montana law. As such, landlords can charge whatever they want for rent, although rent control policies may be instituted in the future.
  • Rental increases. Landlords in Montana are not limited in how much they can raise rental prices and they are not required to give notice or justification for hiking rental rates unless that is included in the lease agreement.
  • Rent-related fees. The state does not limit late fees but there is a $30 return check fee limit.

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Housing Discrimination in Montana

Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, or disability. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes owned by religious organizations. Montana has further protections based on age and marital status.

Discriminatory acts & penalties. An outside organization known as Montana Fair Housing handles cases relating to housing regulations and discrimination. The following behaviors have been highlighted as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected class:

  • Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
  • Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
  • Falsely denying unit availability
  • Blockbusting or steering
  • Refusing to provide certain financial services
  • Discriminating the appraisal of property
  • Advertisements that show a preference for one group over another

Montana tenants have 180 days to report potential acts of discrimination through the Montana Fair Housing’s website. It is unclear what kind of penalties landlords face for discrimination.

Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Montana

Landlord Right to Entry in Montana

Landlords in Montana must give at least 24 hours-notice before entering a property although these provisions can be increased (not decreased) by a lease agreement. Landlords are not required to give entry notice in cases of emergencies.

Small Claims Court in Montana

Montana small claims court will handle rent-related disputes totaling up to $7,000 and the court will hear eviction cases. Oral and written contracts have a 3 and 5-year statute of limitations, respectively.

Mandatory Disclosures in Montana

Montana landlords are required to make these mandatory disclosures:

  1. Lead-Based Paint – For homes built before 1978, landlords must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
  2. Authorized Agents – Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
  3. Move-In Checklist – Any landlord who charges a security deposit is required to provide an inventory of the rental unit’s condition in the form of a move-in checklist.
  4. Mold- Applicable to any unit with a known mold presence that may pose a health threat.
  5. Methamphetamine Contamination – Applicable to any property where the landlord has knowledge of methamphetamine production that has not been remediated by a certified contractor.

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Changing the Locks in Montana

Montana law forbids tenants from changing the locks without the landlord’s permission. Similarly, landlords are unable to unilaterally change the locks on tenants. Thus, both parties must get permission from each other if they wish to change the locks.

Montana Landlord-Tenant Resources

In addition, check your local county and municipality for additional landlord tenant regulations. To learn more, please refer to the below digital resources.

Montana Small Claims Court – This consumer-friendly primer on Montana’s small claims court system can help you understand this judicial system beyond its bare-bones requirements. This primer includes a glossary of terms landlords and tenants alike should know before filing a case.

Housing Authorities and Tribal Housing Authorities in Montana – This collection of contact info for all of Montana’s local housing authorities can make it easier for landlords and tenants alike to get the support they need. This list includes information on tribal housing authorities, which are more knowledgeable when it comes to the ways specific reservation housing laws differ from that of the state at large.

Landlords and Tenants in Montana – This primer on landlord and tenant responsibilities in Montana includes several useful legal applications based upon the state’s legal precedents. This includes a glossary of words regularly used in lease agreements that new tenants may not be familiar with.

Questions? To chat with a Montana landlord tenant attorney, Click here