State Rules and Regulations for Montana Rental Properties and Landlords
In Montana, a lease exists wherever there is an agreement to pay rent in exchange for inhabiting a property. According to Montant law (Montana Code Tit. 70 Ch. 24) this relationship automatically grants rights to the tenants, such as the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to due process before eviction.
Landlords have rights too, inducing the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to evict tenants due to lease violations.
Montana Official Rules and Regulations
- Mont. Ann. Code §§ 70-24-101–70-24-101–Chapter 24 — Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977
- Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-101–70-25-206–Chapter 25–Residential Tenants’ Security Deposits
- Mont. Ann. Code §§70-33-101–70-30-434 –Chapter 30–Montana Residential Home Mobile Home Lot Rental Act
- Landlord-Tenant: Know the Rules–Montana Department of Justice
- Renting a House or an Apartment–State Bar of Montana
- Montana Tenant-Landlord Guide–Montana Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) (pdf)
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.
Lease, Rent & Fees Under Montana Law
- Rent Is Due: Rent is due, without demand or notice, at the beginning of the month and must be paid in monthly installments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
- Payment Methods: Rent can be paid via check or electronic funds transfer to a bank account designated for rent payments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
- Rent Increase Notice: There is no specific statute regarding rent increases. However, Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311 allows landlords to adopt “a rule concerning the tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises.” If such a rule is adopted after a rental agreement is created between a tenant and a landlord, the landlord must provide 30 days’ written notice before the rule takes effect. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311)
- Late Fees: No statute.
- Application Fees: No statute.
- Prepaid Rent: No statute.
- Returned Check Fees: A person who issues a bad check or electronic funds transfer is liable to pay a fee no greater than $30, and the payee to whom the check or payment is made out to can also pursue damages. For more details, see Mont. Ann. Code §§27-1-717(2)(3).
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. If a landlord does not provide water, heat, electricity, gas, or other services, whether by negligence or on purpose, the tenant may provide written notice to the landlord, procure their own utilities, and deduct the costs from the monthly rent (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-408). Tenants who pursue this course of action cannot terminate the rental agreement, obtain damages and obtain injunctive relief, as stipulated in Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406(2), for any noncompliance by the landlord.
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes. Tenants can perform repairs that do not cost more than one month’s rent and deduct the cost from rent, provided that the tenant has given the landlord written notice and the landlord has not made the repairs (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406). Tenants who live in a one-, two-, or three-bedroom residence may also reach agreements, in writing, with their landlords allowing the tenant to perform “specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling” so long as the landlord is not evading their obligations. For more details, see the statute. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-303)
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-427)
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: No statute.
Evictions in Montana
Landlords in Montana may evict tenants for any of the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent, then the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit after any applicable grace period. If the tenant still does not pay then the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.
- Lease violation – In the case of a lease violation, the landlord may issue a Notice to Cure or Quit. Landlords may choose how much time the notice gives tenants to 1, 3, or 14 days, depending on the severity of the infraction. Landlords only have to give a 5-Day notice for repeated infractions.
- Illegal acts – Montana landlords have broad authority to determine which types of illegal activities warrant eviction. The landlord may issue a 5-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not vacate the premises, then the landlord can file for eviction.
At-will tenants are entitled to receive notice proportional to how often they pay rent. Week-to-week and month-to-month tenants must receive at least 7 days and 30 days’ notice, respectively.
Montana landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation or as a form of discrimination.
Notices and Entry Under Montana Law
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is required as the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: No statute.
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 7 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
- Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: No statute.
- Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: Either the landlord or tenant may request that the rental unit be inspected within one week of the tenancy’s expiration (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(2)).
- Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: The landlord may terminate the rental agreement once three days have passed since providing written notice of the tenant’s failure to pay rent when it is due. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422(2)).
- Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Landlords can evict tenants for having an unauthorized pet or unauthorized people living in the unit, as well as for damaging the unit. For more details regarding specific violations and notice times, see (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422).
- Required Notice before Entry: Landlords must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises and may not “abuse the right of access” to harass a tenant. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes, but the landlord must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
- Lockouts Allowed: Tenants cannot remove, replace, or add locks that are not supplied by the landlord without the landlord’s written permission. If the tenant does remove and change the lock, the tenant must supply the landlord with a key (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312). If the tenant does not supply a key, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-33-424). The law also prohibits landlords from changing the locks or adding new locks to keep the tenant out (see: Landlord-Tenant: Know the Rules–Montana Department of Justice).
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: Landlords are prohibited from shutting off any utilities as a means to forcing a tenant to vacate the premises, pay unpaid rent, and so on. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-428)
Mandatory Disclosures in Montana
Montana landlords are required to make 2 mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-based paint. For homes built before 1978, landlords must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
- Authorized agents. Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
State Agencies & Regulatory Bodies
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–Montana
- Montana Housing
- Montana Fair Housing
- Office of Consumer Protection–Montana Department of Justice
- Montana Department of Commerce
- Montana State Auditor, Securities, and Insurance Commissioner
- Montana Division of Banking & Financial Institutions–Department of Administration
- List of Montana Public Housing Authorities–Montana Department of Housing