In Montana, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by MCA §70-24-303. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in Montana
The implied warranty of habitability in Montana does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Yes|
|Condos||Only if person in condo is renter, not owner|
Landlord Responsibilities in Montana
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Montana, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Yes|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Yes|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Yes, “if required”|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Yes|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Not addressed|
Landlords are obligated to keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and clean condition. In some instances, landlords and tenants may agree in writing that the tenant may perform certain routine maintenance or repairs.
Landlord Responsibility for Heat
Montana landlords shall supply reasonable heat between October 1st and May 1st, except if the building that includes the rental unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose.
Landlord Responsibility for Pests
Montana landlords are required to keep rental units free from vermin and rodents, which includes extermination.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Montana
When something in the rental unit needs to be repaired, the tenant must give written notice to the landlord. The notice must include the complete address of the rental, the name of the owner, and a detailed description of the needed repair. The notice can be delivered either personally or through certified mail with a return receipt from the post office.
- Sending Notice –After receiving the written notice, the landlord must make the necessary repairs within 14 days or three days if it is an emergency.
- Landlord Access –Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants 24 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Montana
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Montana law does not outright state that Montana tenants can withhold rent.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to repair and deduct. If the cost of the repair is less than one month’s rent, the tenant may hire a contractor to have the repair made and deduct the repair cost from next month’s rent. If the repair is an emergency, the tenant may not do the repair themselves but may only hire a professional to make the repairs.
- Substitute Housing – The tenant may find substitute housing until the landlord has made the necessary repairs. During this time the tenant is not required to pay rent.
- Lawsuit – Tenants also have the option to file a complaint in the Justice Court specifying the necessary repairs, requiring the landlord to have the repairs completed in a timely manner.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported to federal or state authorities if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in Montana
It is illegal for a landlord to terminate the rental agreement, remove property from the unit, increase the rent, or decrease services because the tenant:
- Filing a complaint to the landlord about habitability issues.
- Filing a complaint to federal or state authorities about habitability issues.
- Joining a tenants’ union or similar organization.
A landlord may not retaliate within 6 months of a tenant exercising their legal right.