Rights, Regulations, & Landlord Tenant Laws - Montana Guide 
Montana landlords and tenants, like in other states, must navigate a complex web of local and state rental laws that impact their rights, obligations, and the dynamics of the landlord-tenant relationship. No matter how comprehensive the regulations may be, this can be a daunting task, even for experienced rental owners and tenants.
We have curated this full guide to help both sides understand Montana’s rental laws. Covering topics like tenant screening, rental agreements, evictions, and more, this guide will help landlords and tenants gain an understanding of Montana’s laws as outlined in the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, which can be found here.
Landlords will learn how to protect their rental properties and build healthy relationships with tenants. Tenants will acquire valuable information on how to use their rights while living in a rental property.
Ready? Let’s get to it.
Montana landlord tenant law fast facts
Montana landlord rights & responsibilities
Montana state law provides landlords with essential rights to effectively manage their rental properties while safeguarding them from potential legal complications. Some of these key rights encompass:
- Collecting rent payments when due
- Charging a security deposit to cover costs like damage beyond normal wear and tear
- Pursuing a formal eviction in the case the tenant violates the lease agreement
In Montana, rental property owners also bear a set of responsibilities aimed at maintaining a seamless tenancy experience and a secure living environment for tenants. Their primary duties include:
- Providing renters with a safe rental unit that complies with health and safety regulations
- Making repairs within 14 days after receiving written notice from tenants
- Returning the tenant’s security deposit within 10 days or 30 days depending on if deductions were made
Montana tenant rights & responsibilities
Montana law grants tenants a distinct set of rights that serve to safeguard their legal interests and well-being throughout their lease term. Some of their fundamental rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental that meets local health and safety codes
- Having repairs made in 14 days after giving the landlord written notice of the issue
- Taking legal action like suing the landlord for failure to make repairs or not complying with security deposit regulations
Montana renters too have several obligations they must uphold while residing in a rental unit. They must:
- Paying rent on time
- Keep fixtures clean and remove garbage
- Make small repairs when necessary
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
Montana landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle
Montana tenant screening and rental application laws
Montana law has few laws covering the rental application and tenant screening process. For instance, the state doesn’t limit how much a landlord can charge for an application fee and fees are non-refundable.
Landlords are permitted to run background checks such as credit reports, criminal history, and rental history, but must first obtain the tenant’s written consent. Additionally, landlords in Montana are bound by the federal Fair Housing Act and cannot ask any questions regarding protected characteristics.
Montana rental agreement laws
Montana accepts both written and oral lease agreements. However, it’s important to note that even if a lease agreement is oral, the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations and rights are still implied by law. Additionally, a written lease agreement provides more protection for both parties in the event of a dispute.
Montana state law requires lease agreements to contain the following information:
- Name and address of the person managing the property
- Name and address of the landlord
- Terms and conditions for security deposit details
- Additional disclosures, which are discussed below
Discover what else you should include on a lease agreement!
Montana security deposit laws
Montana state law permits landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of the lease to cover unforeseen costs like property damage beyond normal wear and tear. There is no limit on how much a landlord can charge for the deposit.
Here are a few additional Montana security deposit regulations to note:
- Landlords are not required to provide a security deposit receipt.
- Landlords do not have to pay interest on a security deposit.
- The security deposit does not have to be held in a separate bank account.
At the end of a lease period, Montana landlords have 10 days to return the tenant’s deposit without deductions and 30 days with deductions. Allowable deductions include damage excluding normal wear and tear, cleaning costs, costs of storing and disposing of unclaimed property, and unpaid rent, late fees, and utility bills.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, the tenant can sue for twice the amount wrongfully withheld plus court costs and attorney fees.
Montana rent laws
Montana does not have state or local rent control laws, meaning landlords can charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they choose. However, landlords cannot increase rent during the lease period unless the rental agreement allows for it. Additionally, landlords must provide a 30-day notice to month-to-month leases and a 7-day notice to weekly leases before raising rent.
If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, landlords can immediately charge a late fee of any amount, as Montana doesn’t have grace period laws or late fee maximums. But, to charge a late fee, it must be mentioned on the lease.
Montana repair and maintenance laws
Montana residential landlords are required to provide rentals that are in safe and habitable condition, including meeting basic building and housing codes. This includes making repairs within 14 days of receiving a proper written notice from tenants.
If a landlord fails to make repairs within that time frame, renters can take a few legal actions: sue for costs, force the landlord to make repairs via court order, or cancel the rental agreement altogether. They can even use the “repair and deduct” remedy if necessary.
Montana notice of entry laws
Montana rental owners can enter their units for reasons such as maintenance, inspections, and property showings. Generally, they must provide at least 24 hours’ advanced notice before entering the property. No notice is required in the case of an emergency.
Montana evictions and lease termination laws
Montana landlord-tenant law allows landlords to evict tenants for certain legal reasons. Proper notice periods are required for each of those reasons. Explore Montana’s formal eviction reasons and accompanying notice periods below:
- Unpaid rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord may issue a written 3-day notice to pay after a grace period if the lease agreement has one. If the tenant still doesn’t pay, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process.
- Lease violation: In the case of lease violations, the specific reasons and their notice periods are as follows:
- Unauthorized pet or people - 3-day notice to vacate or cure
- Property damage - 3-day notice to quit
- Violation not listed in the lease - 14-day notice to cure or vacate
- Illegal activity: If the tenant commits an illegal activity in or on the property, the landlord can issue a 3-day notice to quit. If the tenant doesn’t leave, the landlord can continue the eviction procedure.
- Safety/material health violations: Landlords can issue a 14-day notice to cure or vacate to tenants who violate building, housing, and health or safety codes.
- No lease/end of lease: If tenants holdover or stay past the end of the tenancy, the landlord must provide them notice. The notice period depends on the length of the lease. Week-to-week leases must provide a 7-day notice to quit and month-to-month leases must provide a 30-day notice to quit.
Montana tenants can legally terminate lease agreements early for the following reasons:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
Renters who break their lease early could still be held liable for paying the remaining rent owed. However, landlords are obligated to re-rent the unit.
Additional Montana landlord tenant laws
Beyond addressing rental concerns such as maintenance and eviction, Montana state law also encompasses subjects like landlord retaliation and obligatory disclosures. Below, you'll find insights into some of those specific regulations.
Federal and state laws protect Michigan tenants from housing discrimination. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Montana further protects renters from discrimination based on factors including age and marital status.
If a landlord violates these laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Montana Fair Housing.
Like other states, it’s illegal for Montana landlords to retaliate against their tenants for taking legal actions such as reporting the landlord to government authorities for health and safety violations. Raised rent, reduced services like utilities, and threatened eviction are all considered forms of retaliation in Montana.
Montana residential landlords are required to provide tenants with certain disclosures at the beginning of the lease term. The disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint: Landlords with rental units built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
- Authorized agent: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
- Move-in checklist: Landlords who collect security deposits are required to provide an inventory of the rental’s condition at the start of the lease period.
- Methamphetamine contamination: Landlords must disclosure production of methamphetamine in the rental if it has not been remediated by a professional contractor.
- Mold: If the landlord is aware of mold in the unit, they must disclose the mold’s presence.
Summing up: Understanding Montana landlord tenant statutes
Montana's rental laws were created to assign rights and obligations to both landlords and tenants. While their primary goal is to establish an equitable rental process, these laws also promote harmonious landlord-tenant relationships.
Familiarizing oneself with and adhering to these regulations enables Montana landlords to effectively safeguard their investments and manage their rental business. Concurrently, this understanding empowers tenants to assert their rights and ensure their safety.
Furthermore, both rental property owners and tenants should do their due diligence to stay informed about Montana's landlord-tenant laws, as they evolve over time and shape the rental landscape of the state.
Montana landlord tenant law FAQ
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Montana Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court is designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money in a simplified and expedited manner. In Missouri, a Small Claims Court will hear rental cases for up to $7,000. The process takes approximately one to two months.
Is Montana a landlord-friendly state?
Montana is known to be a relatively landlord-friendly state—as evidenced by its ranking as the 18th most landlord-friendly state. This is because the state lacks rent control laws, has no limits on late fees, and only a few security deposit regulations. Additionally, the eviction process in Montana is fairly quick.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.