Montana Landlord Tenant Law - Click here to return to US Landlord
State of Montana Eviction Law
70-24-108. What constitutes notice. (1) A person has notice of a fact if:
(a) the person has actual knowledge of it;
(b) in the case of a landlord, it is delivered at the place of business of the landlord through which the rental agreement was made; or
(c) in the case of a landlord or tenant, it is delivered in hand to the landlord or tenant or mailed with a certificate of mailing or by certified mail to the person at the place held out by the person as the place for receipt of the communication or, in the absence of a designation, to the person's last-known address. If notice is made with a certificate of mailing or by certified mail, service of the notice is considered to have been made upon the date 3 days after the date of mailing.
(2) Notice received by an organization is effective for a particular transaction from the time it is brought to the attention of the individual conducting that transaction and, in any event, from the time it would have been brought to the individual's attention if the organization had exercised reasonable diligence.
70-24-421. Action for nonpayment of rent -- tenant's counterclaim. (1) In an action for possession based upon nonpayment of the rent or in an action for rent when the tenant is in possession, the tenant may counterclaim for any amount he may recover under the rental agreement or this chapter. The court from time to time may order the tenant to pay into court all or part of the rent accrued and thereafter accruing and shall determine the amount due to each party. The party to whom a net amount is owed shall be paid first from the money paid into court and the balance by the other party. The court may at any time release money paid into the court to either party if the parties so agree or if the court finds a party entitled to the sums released. If no rent remains due after application of this section, judgment shall be entered for the tenant in the action for possession.
(2) In an action for rent when the tenant is not in possession, he may counterclaim as provided in subsection (1) of this section but is not required to pay any rent into court.
70-24-422. Noncompliance of tenant generally -- landlord's right of termination -- damages -- injunction. (1) Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with 70-24-321 affecting health and safety, the landlord may deliver a written notice to the tenant pursuant to 70-24-108 specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 14 days after receipt of the notice. If the breach is not remedied within that time, the rental agreement terminates as provided in the notice, subject to the following exceptions:
(a) If the breach is remediable by repairs, the payment of damages, or otherwise and the tenant adequately remedies the breach before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement does not terminate.
(b) If the breach involves an unauthorized pet, the landlord may deliver a written notice to the tenant that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 3 days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied within that time. This subsection does not apply to a rental agreement involving a tenant who rents space to park a mobile home but who does not rent the mobile home.
(c) If the breach involves unauthorized persons residing in the rental unit, the landlord may deliver a written notice to the tenant that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 3 days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied within that time. This subsection does not apply to a rental agreement involving a tenant who rents space to park a mobile home but who does not rent the mobile home.
(d) If substantially the same act or omission that constituted a prior noncompliance of which notice was given recurs within 6 months, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement upon at least 5 days' written notice specifying the breach and the date of the termination of the rental agreement.
(2) (a) Except as provided in subsection (2)(b), if rent is unpaid when due and the tenant fails to pay rent within 3 days after written notice by the landlord of nonpayment and the landlord's intention to terminate the rental agreement if the rent is not paid within that period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement.
(b) For a rental agreement involving a tenant who rents space to park a mobile home but who does not rent the mobile home, the notice period referred to in subsection (2)(a) is 15 days.
(3) If the tenant destroys, defaces, damages, impairs, or removes any part of the premises in violation of 70-24-321 (2), the landlord may terminate the rental agreement upon giving 3 days' written notice specifying the breach under the provisions of 70-24-321 (2).
(4) Except as provided in this chapter, the landlord may recover actual damages and obtain injunctive relief for any noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or 70-24-321 . Except as provided in subsection (5), if the tenant's noncompliance is purposeful, the landlord may recover treble damages.
(5) Treble damages may not be recovered for the tenant's early termination of the tenancy.
(6) The landlord is not bound by this section in the event that the landlord elects to use the 30-day notice for termination of tenancy as provided in 70-24-441 .
70-24-427. Landlord's remedies after termination -- action for possession. (1) If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord has a claim for possession and for rent and a separate claim for actual damages for any breach of the rental agreement.
(2) An action filed pursuant to subsection (1) in a court must be heard within 20 days after the tenant's appearance or the answer date stated in the summons. If the action is appealed to the district court, the hearing must be held within 20 days after the case is transmitted to the district court.
(3) The landlord and tenant may stipulate to a continuance of the hearing beyond the time limit in subsection (2) without the necessity of an undertaking.
(4) In a landlord's action for possession filed pursuant to subsection (1), the court shall rule on the action within 5 days after the hearing.
70-24-441. Termination by landlord or tenant. (1) The landlord or the tenant may terminate a week-to-week tenancy by a written notice given to the other at least 7 days before the termination date specified in the notice.
(2) The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by giving to the other at any time during the tenancy at least 30 days' notice in writing prior to the date designated in the notice for the termination of the tenancy.
(3) The tenancy terminates on the date designated and without regard to the expiration of the period for which, by the terms of the tenancy, rents are to be paid. Unless otherwise agreed, rent is uniformly apportionable from day to day.
FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER UNLAWFUL DETAINER
Definitions and Preliminary Procedure
70-27-101. Application and jurisdiction. (1) This chapter, except as it relates to forcible detainer as defined in 70-27-103 (2) only and as it relates to forcible entry, does not apply to arrangements governed by chapter 24 of this title.
(2) The district court of the county in which the property or some part of it is situated shall have jurisdiction of proceedings under this chapter, provided that justices' courts, within their respective counties, shall have concurrent jurisdiction.
70-27-102. Forcible entry defined. Every person is guilty of a forcible entry who either:
(1) by breaking open doors, windows, or other parts of a house or by any kind of violence or circumstance of terror enters upon or into any real property or mining claim; or
(2) after entering peaceably upon real property or mining claim, turns out by force, threats, or menacing conduct the party in possession.
Title 70. PROPERTY
Chapter 27. FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER UNLAWFUL DETAINER
Part 1. Definitions and Preliminary Procedure
70-27-103. Forcible detainer defined.
70-27-103. Forcible detainer defined. Every person is guilty of a forcible detainer who either:
(1) by force or by menaces and threats of violence unlawfully holds and keeps the possession of any real property or mining claim, whether the same was acquired peaceably or otherwise; or
(2) in the nighttime or during the absence of the occupant of any lands or mining claim unlawfully enters upon real property and, after demand made for the surrender thereof, for the period of 5 days refuses to surrender the same to such former occupant. The occupant of real property or mining claim, within the meaning of this subsection, is one who, within 5 days preceding such unlawful entry, was in the peaceable and undisputed possession of such lands.
70-27-104. Tenancy at will -- termination by notice. A tenancy or other estate at will, however created, may be terminated by the landlord's giving notice in writing to the tenant, in the manner prescribed in this chapter, to remove from the premises within a period of not less than 1 month, to be specified in the notice; but none of the estates or tenancies embraced by the provisions of 70-15-202 (4) is a tenancy or estate at will.
70-27-105. Remedies of landlord after notice. After such notice has been served and the period specified by such notice has expired, but not before, the landlord may reenter or proceed according to law to recover possession.
70-27-106. Reentry -- when and how to be made. Whenever the right of reentry is given to the grantor or lessor in any grant or lease or otherwise, such reentry may be made at any time after the right has accrued, upon 3 days' notice, as provided in this chapter.
70-27-107. Action for possession under right of reentry -- notice not required. An action for the possession of real property leased or granted with a right of reentry may be maintained at any time in the district court, after the right to reenter has accrued, without the notice prescribed in 70-27-106 .
70-27-108. Unlawful detainer defined. A tenant of real property or mining claim, for a term less than life, is guilty of unlawful detainer:
(1) when he continues in possession, in person or by subtenant, of the property or any part thereof after the expiration of the term for which it is let to him without the permission of the landlord or the successor in estate of his landlord, if any there be, but in case of a tenancy at will, it must first be terminated by notice, as prescribed in 70-27-104 ;
(2) where he continues in possession, in person or by subtenant, without permission of his landlord or the successor in estate of his landlord, if any there be, after default in the payment of rent, pursuant to the lease or agreement under which the property is held, and 3 days' notice in writing requiring its payment, stating the amount which is due, or possession of the property shall have been served upon him and, if there be a subtenant in actual occupation of the premises, also upon such subtenant. Such notice may be served at any time within 1 year after the rent becomes due. In all cases of tenancy upon agricultural lands where the tenant has held over and retained possession for more than 60 days after the expiration of his term without any demand of possession or notice to quit by the landlord or the successor in estate of his landlord, if any there be, he shall be deemed to be holding by permission of the landlord or the successor in estate of his landlord and shall be entitled to hold under the terms of the lease for another full year and shall not be guilty of an unlawful detainer during said year, and such holding over for the period aforesaid shall be taken and construed as a consent on the part of a tenant to hold for another year;
(3) when he continues in possession, in person or by subtenant, after a neglect or failure to perform other conditions or covenants of the lease or agreement under which the property is held, including any covenant not to assign or sublet, than the one for the payment of rent, and 3 days' notice in writing, requiring the performance of such conditions or covenants or the possession of the property, shall have been served upon him and, if there be a subtenant in actual occupation of the premises, also upon such subtenant. Within 3 days after the serving of the notice, the tenant or any subtenant in actual occupation of the premises or any mortgagee of the term or other person interested in its continuance may perform the conditions or covenants of the lease or pay the stipulated rent, as the case may be, and thereby save the lease from forfeiture. If the covenants and conditions of the lease violated by the lessee cannot afterward be performed, then no notice, as last prescribed herein, need be given to said lessee or his subtenant demanding the performance of the violated covenant or conditions of the lease. A tenant may take proceedings similar to those prescribed in this chapter to obtain possession of the premises let to an undertenant in case of his unlawful detention of the premises underlet to him. Any tenant or subtenant assigning or subletting or committing waste upon the demised premises contrary to the covenants of his lease thereby terminates the lease, and the landlord or his successor in estate shall, upon service of 3 days' notice to quit upon the person or persons in possession, be entitled to restitution of possession of such demised premises under the provisions of this chapter.
70-27-109. General rules of practice applicable. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the provisions of Title 25 are applicable to and constitute the rules of practice mentioned in this chapter.
70-27-110. Service of notice -- how made. (1) The notices required by 70-27-108 may be served, either:
(a) by delivering a copy to the tenant personally;
(b) if he be absent from his place of residence and from his usual place of business, by leaving a copy with some person of suitable age and discretion at either place and sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant at his place of residence; or
(c) if such place of residence and business cannot be ascertained or a person of suitable age or discretion there cannot be found, then by affixing a copy in a conspicuous place on the property and also delivering a copy to a person there residing if such person can be found and also sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant at the place where the property is situated.
(2) Service upon a subtenant may be made in the same manner.
70-27-111. Parties defendant. (1) No person other than the tenant of the premises and subtenant, if there be one, in the actual occupation of the premises when the complaint is filed need be made parties defendant in the proceeding, nor shall any proceeding abate or the plaintiff be nonsuited for the nonjoinder of any person who might have been made party defendant; but when it appears that any of the parties served with process or appearing in the proceeding is guilty of the offense charged, judgment must be rendered against such party.
(2) In case a defendant has become a subtenant of the premises in controversy after the service of the notice provided for by 70-27-108 (2) upon the tenant of the premises, the fact that such notice was not served on each subtenant shall constitute no defense to the action.
(3) In case a married person is a tenant or subtenant, failure to join such person's spouse shall constitute no defense; but in case the spouse is not joined, an execution issued upon a personal judgment against the tenant or subtenant can only be enforced against property on the premises at the commencement of the action or against property that is owned solely by the tenant or subtenant and not by his spouse.
(4) All persons who enter the premises under the tenant after the commencement of the action shall be bound by the judgment the same as if he or they had been made party to the action.
70-27-112. Applicability of general provisions on parties. Except as provided in 70-27-111 , the provisions of Title 25 relating to parties to civil actions are applicable to this proceeding.
Title 70. PROPERTY
Chapter 27. FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER UNLAWFUL DETAINER
Part 1. Definitions and Preliminary Procedure
70-27-113. Complaint and summons.
70-27-113. Complaint and summons. (1) The plaintiff, in his complaint, which must be in writing, must set forth the facts on which he seeks to recover and describe the premises with reasonable certainty and may set forth therein any circumstances of fraud, force, or violence which may have accompanied the alleged forcible entry or forcible or unlawful detainer and claim damages therefor. In case the unlawful detainer charged be after default in the payment of rent, the complaint must state the amount of such rent.
(2) Upon filing the complaint, a summons must be issued thereon as in other cases, returnable at a date designated therein, which shall not be less than 4 days or more than 12 days from its date.
70-27-114. Summons -- contents -- service. (1) The summons must:
(a) state the parties to the proceeding, the court in which the same is brought, the nature of the action in concise terms, and the relief sought and also the return day; and
(b) notify the defendant to appear and answer within the time designated or that the relief sought will be taken against him.
(2) The summons must be directed to the defendant and be served at least 4 days before the return day designated therein and must be served and returned in the same manner as summons in civil actions is served and returned.
(3) The summons must be served personally upon the defendants if the defendants can be found with due diligence within the state or if the defendants cannot be found with due diligence within the state, the summons must be served in the same manner as notices are required to be served in 70-27-110 . The complaint need not be served.
(4) Upon the return of any summons issued under this chapter, where the same has not for any reason been served or not served in time, the plaintiff may have a new summons issued, the same as if no previous summons had been issued.
70-27-115. Defendant's appearance and answer. On or before the day fixed for the defendant's appearance, the defendant may appear and answer or move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. In any case, the defendant shall answer the complaint and summons within 10 days.
70-27-116. Verification of complaint and answer. The complaint and answer must be verified. If new matter be set up in the answer, it is deemed denied.
70-27-117. Judgment by default. If at the time appointed the defendant does not appear and defend, the court must enter his default and enter judgment in favor of the plaintiff as prayed for in the complaint.
Trial, Judgment, and Appeal
70-27-201. Trial by jury. Whenever an issue of fact is presented by the pleadings, it must be tried by a jury unless such jury be waived as in other cases. The jury shall be formed in the same manner as other trial juries in the court in which the action is pending.
70-27-202. Actions in justice's court to be tried within 10 days. (1) Actions filed in justice's court under this chapter shall be tried within 10 days after the appearance or answer date stated in the summons unless the defendant applying for a continuance shall give an undertaking to the adverse party with good and sufficient security to be approved by the court, conditioned for the payment of all damages and rent that may accrue if judgment be rendered against the defendant.
(2) The plaintiff and defendant may stipulate to a continuance of the trial beyond the limit of this section without the necessity of an undertaking.
70-27-203. Showings required on trial. On the trial of any proceeding for any forcible entry or forcible detainer, the plaintiff shall only be required to show, in addition to the forcible entry or forcible detainer complained of, that he was peaceably in the actual possession at the time of the forcible entry or was entitled to the possession at the time of the forcible detainer. The defendant may show in his defense that he or his ancestors or those whose interest in such premises he claims have been in the quiet possession thereof for the space of 1 whole year together next before the commencement of the proceedings and that his interest therein is not then ended or determined, and such showing is a bar to the proceedings.
70-27-204. Amendment of complaint after trial begins. (1) When, upon the trial of any proceeding under this chapter, it appears from the evidence that the defendant has been guilty of either forcible entry or forcible or unlawful detainer and other than the offense charged in the complaint, the judge must order that such complaint be forthwith amended to conform with such proof. Such amendment must be made without any imposition of terms.
(2) No continuance shall be permitted on account of such amendment unless the defendant by affidavit filed shows to the satisfaction of the court good cause therefor.
70-27-205. Verdict, judgment, and execution. (1) If upon the trial the verdict of the jury or, if the case be tried without a jury, the finding of the court be in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, judgment shall be entered for the restitution of the premises; and if the proceeding be for an unlawful detainer after neglect or failure to perform the conditions or covenants of the lease or agreement under which the property is held or after default in the payment of rent, the judgment shall also declare the forfeiture of such lease or agreement.
(2) The jury, or the court if the proceeding be tried without a jury, shall also assess the damages occasioned to the plaintiff by any forcible entry or by any forcible or unlawful detainer alleged in the complaint and proved on the trial and find the amount of any rent due if the alleged unlawful detainer be after default in the payment of rent; and the judgment shall be rendered against the defendant, guilty of the forcible entry or forcible or unlawful detainer, for three times the amount of the damages thus assessed and of the rent found due.
(3) When the proceeding is for an unlawful detainer after default in the payment of the rent and the lease or agreement under which the rent is payable has not by its terms expired, execution upon the judgment shall not be issued until the expiration of 5 days after the entry of the judgment, within which time the tenant or any subtenant or any mortgagee of the term or other party interested in its continuance may pay into court for the landlord the amount found due as rent with interest thereon and the amount of damages found by the jury or the court for the unlawful detainer and the costs of the proceeding, and thereupon the judgment shall be satisfied and the tenant be restored to his estate; but if payment, as here provided, be not made within the 5 days, the judgment may be enforced for its full amount and for the possession of the premises. In all other cases the judgment may be enforced immediately.
Title 70. PROPERTY
Chapter 27. FORCIBLE ENTRY AND DETAINER UNLAWFUL DETAINER
Part 2. Trial, Judgment, and Appeal
70-27-206. Treble damages. If a person recovers damages for a forcible or unlawful entry in or upon or detention of any building or cultivated real property, judgment may be entered for three times the amount at which the actual damages are assessed.
70-27-207. Holdover or collusion after notice -- treble rent. If any tenant or any person in collusion with the tenant holds over any lands or tenements after demand made and 1 month's notice in writing given, requiring the possession thereof, such person holding over must pay to the landlord treble rent during the time he continues in possession after such notice.
70-27-208. Holdover after tenant's notice to quit -- treble rent. If any tenant gives notice of his intention to quit the premises and does not deliver up the possession at the time specified in the notice, he must pay to the landlord treble rent during the time he continues in possession after such notice.
70-27-209. Treble rent exclusive of interest. The damages prescribed by 70-27-207 and 70-27-208 are exclusive of exemplary damages and interest.
70-27-210. Relief against forfeiture of lease in case of hardship. (1) The court may relieve a tenant against a forfeiture of a lease and restore him to his former estate in case of hardship where application for such relief is made within 30 days after the forfeiture is declared by the judgment of the court, as provided in 70-27-205 .
(2) The application may be made by a tenant or subtenant or mortgagee of the term or any person interested in the continuance of the term. It must be made upon petition, setting forth the facts upon which relief is sought, and be verified by the applicant.
(3) Notice of the application with a copy of the petition must be served on the plaintiff in the judgment, who may appear and contest the application.
(4) In no case shall the application be granted except on condition that full payment of rent due or full performance of conditions or covenants stipulated, so far as the same is practicable, be made.
70-27-211. Appeal. An appeal may be taken by the plaintiff or defendant as in other cases.
70-27-212. General provisions on new trials and appeals applicable. The provisions of Title 25 relative to new trials and appeals, except insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, apply to the proceedings mentioned in this chapter.