Montana lease agreementWhat is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
There is no limit on the security deposit charged to the tenant so long as it is reasonable.

However, when a landlord requires a security deposit, a written statement must be provided stating the condition of the premises at the execution of the lease. If the landlord fails to furnish this statement, they may be barred from recovering any damages, unless additional evidence can establish the damage was caused by the tenant.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter's insurance?
Landlords in the state of Montana may require tenants to obtain rental insurance.

May I charge a fee for late rent or a returned payment?
Late fees should remain reasonable and related to the landlord's actual expenses incurred. A person who issues a dishonored check is liable to the holder for the amount of the check and a service charge for a reasonable amount, not to exceed $30.00. To recover the service charge, the holder must make a demand in writing.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage, as well as including repair receipts and pictures.

How can I end a Montana lease agreement?
The landlord or the tenant may terminate a Week to Week Tenancy by written notice given to the other at least 7 days prior to the termination date. A Month to Month Tenancy may be terminated by written notice given to the other at least 30 days prior to the rental termination date, and a Fixed Term Lease has a specific ending date, and automatically terminates without notice unless otherwise specified in the lease.

My tenant has moved out, what shall I do with their security deposit?
A final inspection by the landlord must be completed within 7 days of lease termination. The landlord must deliver within 24 hours after the inspection, to the tenant a written list of damages and/or additional cleaning that may be needed.

  • The landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours to complete the required cleaning.
  • If, after the final inspection, there are no charges against the security deposit, the landlord must return the full amount to the tenant within 10 days.
  • Otherwise, the landlord must deliver to the tenant, within 30 days, an itemized list of deductions from the security deposit, along with any portion of the security deposit remaining.

Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.

How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
Except in case of emergency or unless it is impracticable to do so, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice of intent to enter and may enter only at reasonable times.

Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?
If the leased premises was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must provide all tenants with the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and the Lead-Based Paint EPA Pamphlet.

Additionally, at the beginning of the tenancy the landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement of the condition of the premises. The landlord may use the Move in Move Out Condition Report.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

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