This is Part Two of Montana Landlords' Rights & Duties Handbook, and only has information about the duties of a landlord in Montana. To learn more about what rights a landlord has, check out Part One of the Montana Landlords' Rights & Duties Handbook: Rights of a Landlord.
The Montana Legal Services Association developed this handbook to help residential landlords understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities under the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This handbook is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.
If you are a residential landlord who leases or rents a house, apartment, or mobile home to someone else, this handbook was designed for you.
Note: If your tenant owns a mobile home and only rents the lot from you, different laws apply and this handbook is not right for you. This handbook also does not cover:
- Commercial rentals (including renting space for a business);
- Rent-to-own agreements;
- Fraternity or sorority houses;
- Temporary stays at hotels or motels;
- Condominium owners or holders of a proprietary lease in a cooperative;
- Commercial or agricultural rental agreements;
- Halfway houses or other residences related to detention;
- Housing that is provided as part of a job;
- Public or private residences that provide tenants with services including medical, geriatric, counseling, religious, educational, or other similar service (including all housing provided by the Montana university system and other postsecondary institutions);
- Members of a social or fraternal organization who rent part of a building that is operated for the benefit of the organization; or
- Rental agreements giving hunting, fishing, or agricultural privileges with the rental (for example, hunting lodges).
This handbook does not cover all the rights and remedies available to landlords who participate in government assistance programs, such as public housing or Section 8 voucher programs. Montana law still applies to these types of tenancies, but those landlords and tenants also have extra protections under federal law that are not addressed in this handbook.
Where Can I Get More Information?
The laws of Montana are called the Montana Code Annotated or “MCA.” This handbook is based on the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977, which you can find in Title 70, Chapter 24 of the Montana Code Annotated. An easier way to write this law is § 70-24-101, MCA. The symbol "§" means section. You can also write a law as Section 70-24-101, MCA. You can find the MCA at your local library or on the Montana State Law Library website at https://courts.mt.gov/Library.
This handbook is not designed to cover all possible situations where a landlord might need legal advice about a rental. The handbook is merely a guide to the general rights and responsibilities of a landlord. Please read the “Who Can Use This Handbook?” section of this handbook carefully to make sure this handbook applies to your situation. Please consult an attorney to ensure all the legal requirements have been met if you plan to:
- Terminate the rental agreement early;
- Sue your tenant; or
- Take other serious action based on what you have read in the Montana Code Annotated or this handbook.
It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you have any questions. If you end up in court and win, you may be able to get the tenant to pay your attorney’s fees. However, if you end up in court and lose, the court may make you pay for the tenant’s attorney’s fees. This may be true even if your rental agreement says something different. See Section 70-24-442, MCA.
WARNING: If you are filing a lawsuit against your tenant, you may be required to hire an attorney. Rule 2(a) of the Montana Justice and City Court Civil Rules allows a “person” to file a lawsuit without an attorney, but requires an agent or a business entity (such as a corporation or LLC) to file a lawsuit through an attorney.
Where Can I Get Legal Help?
These organizations may be able to help you:
- Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) gives free legal help to low-income people. To find out if you qualify for MLSA, call the MLSA HelpLine at 1-800-666-6899 or apply online.
- The State Bar Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) refers people to Montana lawyers who might be able to help. Call LRIS at 1-406- 449-6577.
- The State Law Library can help you find and use legal resources such as books, forms, and websites. You can visit the Law Library website at https://courts.mt.gov/Library.
Note: There may be forms available to help you with rental concerns. You can find form letters and housing pleading forms that can help you with security deposit issues, eviction, and other topics. Visit https://courts.mt.gov/ and click on the “Forms” option near the top of the page to find forms that can help you write letters or court documents. You may also find forms and more information on this website.