Montana Landlord Tenant Laws
March 2, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: Permitted
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: N/A
Grace Period Minimum: N/A
Amount Limit: N/A
Return Within: 30 days; 10 days if no deductions are made
Notice: 24 hours’
Permitted Times of Entry: Reasonable
|Fair Housing Protections |
Rent Demand Notice: 3-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 14-day or 3-day cure-or-quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3-day quit notice
Montana Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Landlords are required to disclose the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises and the owner or person responsible for receiving notices. This information must be kept current and in writing, and it must be disclosed before the commencement of the tenancy.
Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
At the commencement of a new rental agreement, the landlord must verify that the carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector installed in the unit are in good working order.
Landlords in Montana must include a written statement of the property condition in each rental agreement. The written statement should include, at minimum, a concise description of the present condition of the premises, a statement that the property has not previously been leased if such is true, and the landlord’s (or agent’s) signature.
Prior to leasing any rental unit, Montana landlords must include a general mold disclosure statement in the rental agreement. The full text of the disclosure can be found on the Montana Code Annotated 2021 site.
Additionally, landlords are required to disclose the presence of mold to prospective tenants if they have knowledge that mold is present in the building or rental unit. If the building has been previously tested for mold, the landlord should advise the tenant that testing has occurred and provide a copy of the results, if available, along with evidence of any subsequent treatment.
If a landlord in Montana knows that their inhabitable property has been previously contaminated by methamphetamine production, they must provide a written notice of this fact to any prospective tenants or buyers. The notice should include whether the property has been remediated and decontaminated to acceptable standards. If the landlord gives proper notice and verifies with the environmental department that the property has been appropriately decontaminated (1.5 micrograms of methamphetamine per 100 square centimeters or less), the landlord is released from liability.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: Unless otherwise specified in the lease agreement, rent is due at the dwelling unit on the first of the month (MCA § 70-24-201).
- Application Fees: Rental application fees are not regulated in Montana.
- Rent Increases: There is no statewide rent control in Montana.
- Late Fees: There is no statutory limit on late fees in Montana.
- Grace Period: There is no mandatory grace period in Montana.
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge a fee of $30 (MCA § 27-1-717(2)).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: If the landlord fails to maintain the premises in a way that endangers health and safety, the tenant may notify the landlord and, after a reasonable amount of time, arrange for the repair themselves and deduct the cost from the rent. However, the repair cost must not exceed one month’s rent. The tenant also has the right to deliver a written notice stating that the rental agreement will terminate within 30 days (MCA § 70-24-406).
- Deposit Limit: There is no limit on security deposit amounts in Montana.
- Interest: Landlords in Montana are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 30 days. However, if there are no deductions to the security deposit, it must be returned within 10 days of the tenancy’s termination (MCA § 70-25-202).
- Deposit Location: Landlords are not required to keep security deposits in a separate bank account.
- Withholding: Landlords may withhold funds from the security deposit for damages, unpaid rent, late charges, utilities, penalties specified in the lease, cleaning expenses outside of routine maintenance, and other money the tenant owes to the landlord (MCA § 70-25-201). The landlord must also deliver to the tenant a written list itemizing any deductions from the security deposit within 30 days (MCA § 70-25-202).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Montana fair housing law adds marital status, creed, and age (MCA § 49-2-305).
- Montana landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Montana.
- Montana landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 24 hours’ notice (MCA § 70-24-312(3)(a)).
- Permitted Times: Landlords in Montana may only enter at reasonable times. Acceptable reasons for entry include inspections, repairs, decorations, alterations, improvements, services, or showings (MCA § 70-24-312(1-3)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of an emergency, the landlord may enter without advanced notice or consent (MCA § 70-24-312(2)).
- Rent Demand Notice: 3 days to pay or quit (MCA § 70-24-422(2)).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 14 days to cure or quit. If the noncompliance involves any of the following circumstances, the landlord may send a 3-day cure-or-quit notice: an unauthorized pet, unauthorized people living in the unit, or verbal abuse of the landlord by the tenant. If the tenant commits substantially the same noncompliance within six months, the notice period is 5 days (MCA § 70-24-422(1)(a-f)). For more information about how to write a lease violation letter, see the Montana Judicial Branch website.
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 days to quit. According to Montana eviction laws, this notice applies when the tenant destroys, damages, or threatens to damage any part of the property (MCA § 70-24-422(3-4)).
Other Laws and Facts About Montana
- The median rent rate in Montana is $1,800.
- The median rent rate in Billings is $1,450.
- If a rental property in Montana is substantially damaged or destroyed by fire or another casualty, tenants may immediately vacate and send their landlord a 14-day notice of their intention to terminate the lease. If the tenant chooses to continue living in the unit, the tenant’s rent should be reduced proportionately to the diminution in fair rental value of the property (MCA § 70-24-409).