A Montana eviction notice is a written notice from the landlord or property manager to the tenant. Its purpose is to inform the tenant that they’ve violated the lease. The tenant is given a certain amount of time to correct the problem or leave the property. A Montana eviction notice must comply with landlord-tenant law. Most of the time, they are called a notice to quit.
A Montana eviction notice should contain enough information to explain to the tenant why they’ve received the notice, whether the defect is curable or incurable, and the date by which the violation should be cured or the date by which the tenant should vacate the premises. A curable violation means that the tenant is given the opportunity to fix the problem and remain on the property. When a violation is incurable, the tenant is being advised through the notice to leave the property by a certain date. The components found in eviction notices include:
In Montana, an eviction notice must be legally served by either personally serving the tenant or by mailing the document via first-class mail. If the landlord chooses to use first-class mail, they must include the notice that advises the tenant that they have three days in addition to the amount of time listed. The landlord must also include a Certificate of Mailing. If the tenant is served in person, the landlord must have the tenant sign a copy of the eviction notice to prove service or have someone witness the service. Whomever witnesses the service should be willing to testify in court on behalf of the landlord if they must file a lawsuit against the tenant.
3-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 3-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is a Montana eviction notice used to inform the tenant that they are late on their rent. It gives the tenant three days to pay what is owed or vacate the property (§ 70-24-422(2)). Non-payment of rent is considered a curable violation because if the tenant pays by the deadline, they can remain on the property.
This eviction notice should include the total amount due, how the amount should be paid, to whom it should be paid, and by when it should be paid. Remember, if the notice is mailed, the tenant gets three additional days. So, in theory, this 3 day notice would become a 6 day notice if it were mailed.
Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
A notice to quit for non-compliance may give 3 days, 5 days, or 14 days of notice to the tenant depending on the reason it was issued (§ 70-24-422(1, 3, and 4)). Curable violations that may receive a 3 day notice include:
A 5 day notice may be issued for the incurable violation of repeating the same lease violation within six months of the first violation. So, the tenant is being notified that they need to leave the property by the deadline. Remember to add three days if you’re a landlord and serve the tenant through the mail.
A 14 day notice is issued for the following curable lease violations:
Notice to Terminate Week-to-Week Tenancy
A notice to terminate a week-to-week tenancy gives the tenant seven days to vacate the property (§ 70-24-441(1)). The tenant doesn’t have to violate the lease to get this notice. The landlord or the tenant may use this notice to inform the other party that the property will be vacated at the end of that seven day period. This notice should list the date by which the property must be vacant.
Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Tenancy
A notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy is another notice that doesn’t require the tenant o violate the lease in some way. It can be used by the landlord or the tenant to end a month-to-month lease agreement. This notice gives 30 days to the tenant to vacate the property so that the landlord may take possession of the property (§ 70-24-441(2)).
Montana eviction notices get an extra three days from the date that is listed to either cure the violation or vacate the property, depending on the type of eviction notice issued, if the landlord opts to serve the tenant through the mail.
The eviction notice is the first step in Montana of the legal eviction process. Tenants must be legally served in person or via first-class mail before the landlord can file a lawsuit against the tenant. In fact, if the landlord serves the tenant through the mail, the landlord must also have a copy of a Certificate of Mailing. If the landlord is serving the tenant in person, they should ask the tenant to sign a copy of the notice. This will help the landlord if they have to file a lawsuit to get the tenant to leave the property.
Unless the landlord has a court order, they may not take certain actions that are known collectively as self-help eviction methods. Those are changing the locks on the property, turning off utilities to the property, or removing the tenant’s belongings from the property. The landlord may not evict the tenant because of any characteristics mentioned in the Fair Housing Act: their race, color, religious beliefs, national origin, gender or sex, disability, or family status. Family status includes whether the tenant is or may be pregnant and whether there are minor children. It is also illegal for the landlord to evict the tenant for reporting uninhabitable conditions or code violations related to the rental property.
If the landlord uses an illegal eviction method against the tenant, the tenant may be able to sue them for financial compensation. The tenant also may not be required to leave the property. It is imperative that landlords abide by Montana landlord-tenant laws.
Tenants have rights during the eviction process. You have the right to a habitable environment. You have the right to be notified about why you’re being evicted. The law says you have a certain amount of time, depending on the reason for the eviction, to correct the problem (for curable issues) or vacate the property (for both curable and incurable issues). If you’re served via mail, you have an additional three days in addition to however many days the notice lists at the top. You can learn more about your rights through this landlord-tenant guide provided by the Montana Department of Justice.
Additionally, Montana tenants may have a right to sue the landlord if they are subjected to illegal eviction methods as discussed under Legal Considerations. That includes changing the locks, having the utility companies stop services to the rental property, or taking your belongings out of the premises without a court order; evicting you for a reason that would qualify as discriminatory; or evicting you because you reported code violations or uninhabitable conditions of the rental property to the proper housing authorities.
If you have questions about the eviction notice, you have some options. First, call the landlord. This can help clear up any questions you might have. However, if you think that the eviction is illegal, you should contact a landlord-tenant attorney. They can evaluate the situation and let you know whether you have the legal right to sue the landlord. You can contact University of Montana Law School to ask if they have an active legal clinic. A legal clinic often provides Montana residents with low-cost or free legal services in various areas, including help with evictions. Your third option is to contact a legal aid office. If you meet their guidelines, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal help. They also have many free resources that can inform you of your rights.
Montana landlords have certain rights to take possession of the rental property. However, it is imperative that the landlord follow the state’s laws and not engage in illegal eviction practices as described under Legal Considerations.
Landlords may serve tenants either in person or through first-class mail. If the landlord chooses to serve the tenant through mail, the tenant is entitled to three extra days. Remember that the eviction notice is the first thing a landlord must do to regain possession of the rental property. Landlords that have questions about their rights, obligations, or the eviction process should make an appointment to talk with a Montana landlord-tenant lawyer.