In the United States, every state defines its laws and regulations. Every state has its rent regulations formulated in accordance with subsets of apartments. The idea is to monitor affordable housing and keep people from going homeless and broke.
However, Montana has no rent stabilization or rent control laws. There is a state ban on rent control, governed by Montana Code Tit. 70 Ch.24. This enables landlords to set rent and increase it across the state, given that they provide proper notice.
On the other hand, the landlord can increase the rent with certain discretions, as much as they wish, and whenever they want. So, let's find out:
- What do these terms mean?
- What are the exceptions?
- What are the limitations?
These questions will help us understand the rights of both tenants and landlords in Montana.
What is rent control?
Rent control, or rent regulation, usually refers to laws and ordinances limiting how much a landlord can increase rent in a given period and set conditions for when and how much they can raise rents. Such regulations are set to make housing affordable by imposing price controls. There are generally two types of rent regulation:
- Eviction control
- Price control
Both require landlords to limit their rates for tenants based on factors such as salaries and inflation. Eviction controls specify criteria under which tenants cannot be evicted, whereas price controls define how landlords can increase rent. Controlling the eviction rates is often difficult due to constant changes in housing markets; therefore, wage-related regulations are more common.
Rent control is more common in cities where competition for limited housing stock raises market-rate prices out of reach for these residents.
According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s website, rent control is not applicable in all United States. For example, some states have neither rent control nor premonitions, including the following: Florida, Wyoming, Nebraska, Ohio, Maine, Hawaii, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Related Reading: Can a landlord be sued for emotional distress?
When Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Montana?
A landlord can raise rent in Montana upon the termination of a lease period. For a year-long lease, a landlord must provide you with 60-days notice in writing. For tenants on a week-to-week lease that can be as little as 7-days notice. Montana has the 37th highest rent in the country out of all the States and Territories, however is still a very affordable State for cost of living. The Fair Market Rent in Montana is $757 for a 2-bedroom home.
How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Montana?
Unfortunately, Montana has no law control or rent stabilization laws like in other states. Hence the state fails to regulate or intervene on how much a landlord can raise the rent in Montana. The state of Montana does not provide a limit to rent increases.
How Can You Have Fixed Rent in Montana?
Only a fixed-term lease can bind the landlord not to raise the rent until the lease ends. After the lease ends, the landlord can raise however they want when renewing the lease.Also, in a month-to-month lease, the landlord can raise the rent any time after producing a notice one month prior.So, if you are looking to have a fixed rent, you can talk to the landlord when signing the lease. That would give you the edge to have the same rent for the term of the lease.
When Can an Increase in Rent Become Illegal?
Certain situations classify the rent hike as illegal in the state of Montana. Those are:
- Increasing before the end of the lease
- And the act of retaliation
In Montana, every landlord must follow the Federal Fair Housing Act that states a landlord may not increase rent based on the age, race, religion, nation of origin, familial status, sexual orientation, military status, or disability status of the tenant.
Correspondingly goes for the case of lease. When signing the lease for a year, the tenant and landlord agree on the rent. The lease document indicates that the rent will remain the same until the end of the lease term. In this scenario, the landlord has to wait for the lease term to end and cannot increase the rent.
If a tenant exercises their legal right, which doesn't sit well with the landlord, and a rent hike comes as a response or retaliation, it is termed illegal. The legal rights include:By making a complaint to any governmental agency regarding certain conditions in the building. Such as health inspectors, building inspectors, fire departments, or any other regulatory body for lousy living conditions.By joining any tenant union. Suppose the landlord is uncomfortable with the tenant joining any union and retaliates against it. However, it is the legal right of the tenant to join any tenant union.Use rent money to fix any defects in the rental unit. The tenant can use the rent money for these fixes when the landlord has failed to comply with the fixes, resulting in terrible living conditions, health hazards, or safety hazards. Learn more about Montana tenant unions here.
Is There a Certain Limit to Rent Increment?
Again, no! The landlord can increase the rent as much as they intend to. However, this can cause a loss of income in the future.
If tenants find the rent unreasonable, they are likely to move out when they find something within the budget. However, since the rent is high, conflicting with the space and location, there are chances to have new tenants any time soon.
When the old tenants leave, it's a loss of income for the landlord. That's because the property will stay vacant until someone comes along and agrees to the hiked rents.
Related Reading: Landlord Resources: Rental Management Tools, Reliable Informational Websites, and More
The Rent Increase Notice
A majority of jurisdictions require landlords to send an official rent increase notice to raise the price of rental units. This notification must detail the new price, as well as when it takes effect. In Montana, the amount of time that must be given depends on:
- The property type
- Lease type
- Rent increase
Although Montana legislation does not provide specific notification information for landlords increasing rental rates, it is expected that these notices correspond with termination notices. For cases where there is no formal lease, landlords should provide a minimum of 7 days' notice for tenants on a week-to-week arrangement. For month-to-month, this extends to a 15-day notice. For tenants renting quarter-to-quarter, this extends to a 30 day notice. Lastly, for annual leases, the notice is 60 days.
Because local laws may differ, landlords should be aware of the county or city’s landlord-tenant regulations and the other state’s rules to comply.
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