Montana Security Deposit Law

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Montana law doesn’t specify a limit on how much your landlord can charge for a security deposit, but they can only withhold it at the end of your lease for certain reasons. If a landlord won’t be withholding any of your security deposit, they’ll have 10 days to return it to you.
Security deposits can be an all-around headache: they’re a big upfront cost, and getting them back when your lease is over can be unnecessarily difficult. On top of that, landlord and tenant laws vary from state to state, so understanding your rights as a renter can be difficult.
Before signing that lease agreement or paying that security deposit, make sure you have a good understanding of your state’s landlord and tenant laws. To help you get started, the car and renters insurance comparison app Jerry is here to give you the rundown on security deposit laws in Montana.
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What is Montana law on security deposits?

A security deposit is used in residential rental agreements to confirm a tenant’s intent to rent a space, as well as cover any unpaid expenses or damages caused by a tenant during the lease, if necessary. 
If you leave your rental in good shape when your lease is over, you should expect to get most, if not all, of your deposit back.
Section 70.25 of Montana Code outlines state requirements regarding tenants’ security deposits.

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Montana? 

In Montana, there isn’t a specified limit on what landlords can charge for a security deposit, but it’s common for landlords to require one to two months’ worth of rent

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Montana? 

How much time your landlord has to return your security deposit in Montana depends on the circumstances. 
Once your lease is officially over, your landlord has 10 days to return your security deposit if none of it will be withheld for damages, cleaning, or unpaid expenses.
If your landlord is withholding some of your security deposit, they have to provide you with a written notice within 30 days of the end of your tenancy, complete with a list of itemized expenses and a refund of any remaining security deposit funds.
Pro Tip To avoid unnecessary headaches, make sure your landlord has your current mailing address because the funds will be considered delivered once they’re sent to your last-known address. (They’ll still be responsible for returning your deposit, but the funds won’t typically be considered wrongfully withheld for the extra time it takes.)

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Montana?

In Montana, ahead of signing a lease agreement, a landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement describing the current condition of the rental space. That description should include:
  • A clearly written description of the rental property that would be known to the landlord or their agent upon reasonable inspection
  • A note that the property hasn’t been rented before, if applicable
  • The signature of the landlord or their agent
Additionally, a tenant can make a written request of any damage and/or cleaning charges from the landlord before signing the lease agreement.
If your landlord didn’t provide you with the statement of the rental property’s conditions, and/or if you requested a list of damage or cleaning charges, this will make it harder for them to withhold your security deposit without clear evidence that you were responsible for damages.
Your landlord can withhold some or all of your security deposit for the following reasons:
  • Missed rent or utility payments
  • Late payment charges
  • Cleaning expenses
  • Damage caused by the tenant
When it comes to cleaning charges, there are certain requirements. The cleaning required has to be beyond the landlord’s normal routine maintenance of the property due to the tenant’s negligence. No cleaning charges can be taken from the deposit until the landlord gives the tenant written notice, and then the tenant will have 24 hours to take care of the required cleaning.
Either the landlord or tenant can request the property be inspected within a week of the lease end date. Setting up an inspection can help you get a sense of what your landlord thinks of the condition of the property and how much of your security deposit you might expect to get back.
Key Takeaway Your landlord can withhold some or all of your security deposit in Montana, but only for reasons allowed by state law, and they’ll have to provide you with an itemized notice of any expenses. 

How to get your security deposit back in Montana

If your lease has ended, you’ve moved out of your old place, and you still haven’t received your security deposit or a written notice about it, you should contact your landlord in writing to ask about it first.
If your landlord is uncooperative or you believe some or all of your deposit is being wrongfully withheld, you have the option to take them to small claims court.

How to save money on car and renters insurance in Montana

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The average Jerry user saves about $887 per year, which can go a long way when you’re saving up for a security deposit—or waiting to get one back.
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FAQs

Unless you’ve established an agreement with your landlord in writing, you should plan to pay your last month of rent as usual and collect your security deposit separately when your lease wraps up.
Generally speaking, your cleaning obligation as a tenant is to return the rental to the state it was in when you moved in, aside from normal wear and tear. 
Montana law allows for landlords to deduct “actual cleaning expenses, including a reasonable charge for the landlord’s labor” from security deposits. If your carpet has become significantly dirty or damaged during your lease and your landlord expects you to address the problem, they’ll have to provide you with written notice first, and then you’ll have 24 hours to correct it.

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