Want to evict a tenant – but need to do it right?
That’s what the lawyers at Judnich Law Office in Missoula are for!
In Montana, evicting a tenant out of any type of real estate can be a very tricky process. Our state’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977 governs the laws about how to correctly – and incorrectly – evict a tenant as a landlord.
The process and requirements are very detailed and it’s important to understand that every situation is unique. But generally speaking, here are the broad strokes of the eviction process in Montana.
Understanding a landlord’s “recovery of a premises”
As the landlord of a property, you may recover possession of the property from a tenant’s possession under these 3 circumstances:
Each of these circumstances is different and requires different levels of proof to a court. Let’s take a closer look at each.
In this situation, a tenant has relinquished the premises back to the landlord.
This requires proof that a tenant’s actions established their intention to abandon the premises. If you believe this is a situation you’re facing, it’s advisable to at least consult an eviction attorney.
If the landlord is deemed to be wrong, the tenant maintains a legal action against the landlord and can be awarded damages.
In this case, a tenant has agreed to surrender the premises to the landlord.
The facts of how this happens can vary widely. But usually, the landlord will pay the tenant some amount of money to turn over their keys and leave the premises in reasonably clean condition. Or this situation may be as simple as an agreement for them to leave on a certain date.
This is the most common way to recover possession.
Eviction is the statutory legal process by which a landlord provides notice to the tenant that the rental agreement is terminated. This may occur for a variety of reasons, but the most common is when a tenant does not pay their rent.
The Eviction Process in Montana
The Montana eviction process begins with a notice to the tenant that they must pay rent, or fix the situation causing the eviction within 3 days.
Following 3 full days after the service of this notice, a landlord can bring an action for eviction in a court of law. It is the burden of the landlord to present all the evidence to the court
If the landlord fails to provide all the information in the correct way, the eviction action can fail and the tenant will continue to simply maintain possession of the premises.
Tenants can fight an eviction process and have prevailed in court when landlords do not follow the process correctly. This delays their removal from the premises and increases your headaches.
This is why it is so important for a landlord to protect their rights and ensure that the eviction process is completed carefully. An experienced Montana eviction attorney, like those at the Judnich Law Office, can help. Our fee is a small investment that gives you the best chance to maintain as much of the deposit, rent, and well-being of your property as possible and as legally allowed.
Whatever you do, don’t do this!
No matter how frustrating the situation you find yourself in as a landlord in Montana, do not let your emotions get the best of you. Many landlords find themselves running afoul of the law when they get fed up and break the law as the result of a dispute with a tenant.
As a landlord in Montana, eviction laws prevent you from attempting to remove a tenant by purposeful interruption of the heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas, changing the locks, or other essential services.
In other words, a landlord must follow the law and ensure the tenant can enjoy the premises until such time they are legally no longer in possession.
A couple of examples of no-nos that are common but illegal for a landlord to do prior to a court ordering an eviction are:
- Changing the locks to lock out the tenant
- Having a utility company (power/water) stop service
- Blocking access to the premises
- Re-renting the premises to a new tenant immediately
- Spending the security deposit
When a landlord does a no-no, a tenant actually has a legal cause of action against the landlord for unlawful detainer and can be awarded 3 times damages and attorneys fees. This can be tricky stuff, so it is best to leave it to the professionals and do it correctly the first time.
Schedule your consultation today!
Marty is a former criminal prosecutor in the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and now uses that experience to defend those accused of crimes. A University of Montana School of Law graduate, Marty focuses his practice on personal injury and criminal defense and is a premier DUI defense attorney. He is also well versed in the insurance claims industry and has negotiated significant settlements with nearly every major insurance company.