Montana Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Montana Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

In general, a landlord in Montana has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues within 14 days of getting written notice from the tenant about the needed repairs.

Montana Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Montana landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Plumbing.
  • Sanitary facilities.
  • Required utilities.
  • Heating (in winter).
  • Hot water.
  • Garbage removal.
  • Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
  • Provided appliances.
  • Common areas.
  • Features that affect health, safety, or habitability.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Montana?

Montana tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property which affects health and safety.

On a case by case basis, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing for the tenant to handle specific maintenance. For single-family homes and duplexes only, this can include basic repair obligations like keeping the property up to code.

Requesting Repairs in Montana

Montana tenants must request repairs by providing the landlord written notice about the issue that needs repair. To reserve the relevant legal options, the tenant must also Montana actions they might take if the landlord does not make timely repairs, such as canceling the lease altogether.

An example of language a tenant might use to Montana these intentions is: “If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement 14 or more days from today.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Montana?

Montana landlords have 14 days to make repairs after getting proper written notice about an issue from the tenant. This is shortened to 3 business days in the case of an emergency situation.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Montana?

Montana landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that are their responsibility. However, refusal to repair does not excuse the renter failing to keep the terms of the rental agreement. For example, a landlord who fails to repair can still evict for the tenant’s failure to pay rent.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Montana?

Montana landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, a situation that requires the tenant to move out for repairs may be a constructive eviction that lets the tenant end the lease and stop paying rent after moving out.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Montana

Montana tenants can cancel the rental agreement if the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs, in many situations. They might also sue for damages or get an injunction to force repairs as well as repairing and deducting the cost from the rent.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Montana?

Montana tenants are not allowed to unilaterally withhold rent. To receive a legal excuse from paying the rent, a tenant must have a court order.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Montana?

Montana tenants can arrange for repairs and deduct the cost from rent, for health and safety issues the landlord hasn’t fixed within a reasonable time after notice. The total cost must be under one month’s rent. If the repair is made in an emergency situation, it must be professionally done.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Montana?

Montana tenants can break their lease 14 after written notice, for failure to repair issues that weren’t the tenant’s responsibility or other uncorrected breaches of the rental agreement.

Tenants can move out and break their lease immediately, when the property is destroyed or severely damaged by an action that wasn’t the tenant’s fault (for example, a hurricane). The tenant in this case must notify the landlord within 14 days that the rental agreement has ended.

Can the Tenant Sue in Montana?

Montana tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Montana?

Montana tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

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Landlord Retaliation in Montana

It’s illegal for Montana landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past six months:

  • Complaining to the landlord or the government about failure to maintain the property.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.
  • Pursuing rights or remedies given by the law or lease.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord can evict a tenant who is damaging the property, even if the tenant reports the damage to code compliance authorities.

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