This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Aug 26th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Jump to the section that matches your situation
Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Montana's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired.
Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.
Earlier, Governor Bullock had issued an Eviction Moratorium through May 24, 2020 that stopped landlords from evicting renters who cannot pay their rent based on COVID-19 related hardships or who must quarantine.
This order also stopped utilities from shutting off services based on nonpayment. This order went into effect on March 30, 2020 and lasted through May 24, 2020 for most people.
Vulnerable people also had additional protections. People in a vulnerable population (like those over 65, with high blood pressure, or compromised immune systems) and people who must remain sheltered-in-place are protected against eviction for at least 30 days after they stop sheltering in place, or for 30 days after the state's emergency period ended in June 2021. Members of a vulnerable population or those who must remain sheltered-in-place must inform their landlord.
Check the Governor's Coronavirus Task Force page to see if there are any extensions to the end date.
Since most emergency protections have expired, then in Montana:
Yes, Montana renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may have been protected from eviction, but now that those protections are over, you may be sued and you still owe all your rent.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
Utilities may be shut off in Montana again. Emergency protections have expired.
During the emergency period through June 2021, Montana renters had been protected from utility shutoffs and late fee charges if they cannot pay their utility bill.
Governor Bullock ordered that no customer will have home utilities shut off during the emergency, based on an inability to pay.
Also, the utility companies will not be allowed to charge any penalties, late fees, or interest for unpaid utility bills during the emergency. These protections have been extended through May 24, 2020. They may be extended further, check here for more updates.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).
Reach out to legal help for additional guidance. You may also be able to file a court case to get your landlord to make the repairs.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Yes, eviction cases are still proceeding through Montana courts, though they may be held remotely rather than in person.
Check with the Montana state courts to find updates on court proceedings.
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
You may not have to leave your home. Consider your options. Talk to your landlord to try to resolve the issue. Propose a solution. Communication is important. Most landlords prefer to avoid the hassle of an eviction lawsuit, if possible. If you propose a good option, your landlord may agree.
In Montana, your landlord must give you a notice of termination of your rental agreement before they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent, remedy any violation, prepare defenses against eviction, or move.
The landlord’s notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and you may be able to stop an eviction.
These are Montana’s requirements for an eviction notice:
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
A verbal conversation doesn't usually count as an "eviction notice" in Montana. To be legal, the notice should be written down and given to you in the correct way (by mail or hand-delivery). But the law also says that if you have “actual” knowledge of the landlord’s request that you move out, such as from a verbal conversation, that may be sufficient notice.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice. But if you don’t have good defenses to the eviction it might be best to leave.
You do not have to leave your home until after your landlord files an eviction lawsuit against you, and wins. If that happens, the judge will order that you move out by a certain date.
After the date on the landlord’s termination notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. If you file a written answer to the eviction lawsuit with the court, you will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself. After the hearing, it will be up to the judge to decide whether you have to move.
Beware! There are risks to staying past the date on the eviction notice. If your landlord ends up winning the eviction lawsuit, the judge could order you to pay the landlord’s attorney fees and other money. Also, a court eviction judgment against you is public record. That eviction judgment could make it harder for you to find a rental in the future.
Try your best to get the rent paid within the deadline given. If you pay it by the deadline in the landlord’s termination notice, then the landlord cannot file an eviction lawsuit against you.
Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
In Montana, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Montana, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
Yes. In Montana, you are required to file a written answer with the court, to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction. You also have to provide a copy of your written answer to your landlord or to the landlord’s attorney (if the landlord is represented).
You will have 10 business days after you receive the Summons and Complaint to file your written answer with the court. (You don’t count Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays that fall within the 10 days.) If you do not submit this response to the court by the 10th day, you will lose the right to defend yourself in court, and you will be evicted. If an answer is filed denying the allegations, a hearing will be held within 14 days of filing the answer. If you cannot afford to pay the $30 filing fee to the court to file your written answer, ask the court clerk for the fee waiver request form to fill out. You can also find the fee waiver form here.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You can come to an agreement with your landlord anytime before the court hearing, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
Find help with other problems, like domestic violence, health coverage, food benefits, mental health, and other issues.Find Other Services
State information is taken from these sources:Montana Governor's orderMontana Emergency Housing AssistanceMontana Law HelpPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker
Ask it using this form, and we may add it to our FAQ list.