Renters’ Rights after a Disaster in Montana

Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)


If you live in Montana, this article will help you understand your renters’ rights after a disaster. These rights don’t apply if you or your guests caused the damages to your rental. You can read the law for renters’ rights after a disaster for yourself at 70-24-409, MCA


  1. You can leave and end your lease. If the home you are renting is damaged or destroyed by a disaster, like a fire or flood, you can end your lease right away. If you do this, you must notify your landlord that you are ending the lease within 14 days of leaving your home. Once you notify the landlord, the lease ends the day you left your home. You can use our free form to tell your landlord that you are ending the lease
  2. You may still get your Security Deposit back. Once you end your lease, the landlord must return your security deposit and any rent that you have prepaid, starting from the day the disaster happened. The landlord has 30 days to give you back your security deposit and a list of all the deductions they made from the deposit. Your landlord can only deduct money for: damages caused by you or your guests, unpaid rent or utilities, late charges, and other money you owe them. The landlord can’t deduct for repairs that need to be done because of the disaster unless you or your guest caused it to happen. Be sure to give the landlord your forwarding address when you end your lease. If the landlord won’t return your deposit, your first step is to send the landlord a Security Deposit Demand letter
  3. You can stay in your rental. You can only stay in your rental if it is legal to stay. You may not be able to stay if the rental has been condemned or deemed unsafe. If only part of your rental is unusable, you can move out of that part and continue to live in the rest
  4. You can try to negotiate for reduced rent. If you can only use part of your rental and decide to stay, your rent should be reduced because you cannot use all of your property. It’s a good idea to try to negotiate the reduction with your landlord. If you can’t come to an agreement, make sure you talk to a lawyer before you deduct anything from your rent. 
  5. Your landlord must make any repairs caused by the disaster that affect your health and safety. Your landlord must also continue to provide essential services, like electricity and running water. If the landlord won’t make needed repairs, your first step is to send a Request for Repairs letter. After you ask for the repairs in writing and give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs, if the repair costs less than one month’s rent you can make the repairs yourself and deduct it from the rent. Always talk to a lawyer before you stop paying rent or deduct the costs of repairs from your rent. Learn more about Montana’s repair and deduct law

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Legal Help

  • Montana Legal Services Association provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help in Montana.
  • The State Bar Lawyer Referral Service may provide you with contact information for attorneys who provide the type of assistance you are seeking, for a fee. You can contact the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (406) 449-6577 or


Non-Legal Resources

  • Montana 2-1-1 provides information and connects people to resources for non-emergency needs. Dial 2-1-1 or visit

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Last Review and Update: Jun 28, 2022
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