Knowing your state rental laws is a crucial step to becoming a successful landlord. Montana’s state laws are in place to keep both landlords and tenants accountable and to make each rental agreement legal and fair.
Following these laws can also ensure that you avoid legal disputes with tenants, so be sure to pay close attention to the state laws and regulations below, as these are some of the most important ones that landlords in Montana should know before renting their property out.
In all 50 states, government laws dictate what landlords must tell their tenants about the unit those tenants are about to move into. In Montana, landlords must disclose the name and address of anyone who is authorized to manage the premises or the person who is responsible for receiving notices. This disclosure must be in writing and updated as needed.
Additionally, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors must be kept in good working order. The landlord should verify that they are in quality condition at the beginning of each new rental agreement. They must also include a written statement specifying the condition of the property alongside a statement disclosing whether the property has been leased previously. The landlord or agent must then sign off on that notice.
Montana landlords should also include a mold disclosure statement in their rental agreement and disclose whether mold is present in the building if they are aware of it. If the building has been previously inspected for the presence of mold, the landlord must tell the tenant that this has occurred and provide any available copy of the inspection results and subsequent treatment.
Lastly, if the landlord knows that their rental property has previously been contaminated by methamphetamine production, they must provide a written notice to new tenants or buyers. This notice should state whether the property has been decontaminated to an acceptable condition (in accordance with the Montana environmental department) to release the landlord from liability.
Eviction laws can be especially tough to navigate, particularly as a new landlord first starting out. You may have questions regarding how to write a lease violation letter or how long you can wait to start filing for eviction against a tenant who is in violation of their lease. When in doubt, ask a fellow landlord or real estate attorney to help you through the complicated eviction laws in your state. Here are a few guidelines that Montana landlord tenant laws set out for eviction situations.
If your tenant has not paid rent, you may send them a rent demand notice and must wait at least three days before filing for eviction. During these three days, the tenant gets a chance to pay what they owe or make arrangements to vacate the property.
For lease violations, the tenant has 14 days to cure their violation or quit the unit. However, if the tenant has an unauthorized pet, unauthorized roommates, or commits verbal abuse against the landlord, then the landlord can send a three-day cure or quit notice. Also, for any repeated violation within six months, landlords may send a five-day quit notice and does not need to provide the tenant another opportunity to fix the violation.
Montana eviction laws specify a three-day quit notice is required in case of destruction of the rental property by the tenant or threats of destruction. Landlords do not need to allow an opportunity for the tenant to remedy their behavior in this case.
Fair Housing and Tenant Screening
Montana fair housing laws adhere to the Fair Housing Act which protects tenants from discrimination based on seven federally protected classes (race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, disability, and gender). Montana’s laws in particular add marital status, creed, and age to the list.
Make sure to follow the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act by keeping tenant credit information confidential and follow the HUD recommendations when screening tenants with a criminal background check, including considering all applicants on a case-by-case basis.
Rent and Fees
Rental application fees are not regulated in Montana, nor is there a limit on late fees or statewide rent control. There is also no mandatory grace period, which means that landlords can start charging the late fee of their choice as soon as rent is late (unless the lease agreement says otherwise).
Tenants also have remedies in Montana for breaches of the lease. If the landlord neglects their property in a way that creates a dangerous environment for their tenant, the tenant can notify the landlord and arrange for the repair themselves after a reasonable amount of time. They can then deduct that repair cost from rent. Keep in mind that the repair cannot exceed the amount of one months’ rent. Also, the tenant can deliver a written notice stating that their rental agreement will be terminated within 30 days.
Montana can be a great place for your next real estate investment, but it’s important that you take the time to become familiar with their state laws first. Continue to do your own research and reach out to trusted professionals in the field if you have any questions.