Tenant Law in Montana
Relationships between landlords and tenants in Helena, Montana can get contentious. It's difficult to be a tenant or a landlord. If one or both parties are not aware of their legal rights and responsibilities, conflicts can arise.
Landlords and tenants have several rights and responsibilities. What follows is a partial list of the rights that landlords and tenants have, and the corresponding duties of the other party.
Landlord's Rights in Helena, MT
Most obviously, landlords have a right to collect rent from their tenants. When a tenant agrees to pay a landlord a certain amount of money for the right to occupy the landlord's property, a contract is formed. Tenants have to hold up their end of the deal.
Also, landlords have a right to be compensated for damage a tenant causes to a rented unit, either intentionally or negligently. Landlords have a right to deduct repair costs from tenants' security deposits, unless the damage was caused by normal wear and tear, for which tenants are not liable.
Tenant's Rights in Helena, MT
Much like landlords have a right to get paid for the service they provide, tenants have a right to get what they pay for: a suitable place to live. In Helena, Montana, all residential rental agreements carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord implicitly guarantees that any residence he or she rents will be fit for human habitation. In general, an unit will be automatically deemed uninhabitable if it lacks running water, electricity, heat, and adequate protection from the elements. There are many more factors that can be considered, as well, but those are some of the basics.
Furthermore, tenants are entitled to common areas that are reasonable safe and sanitary. The common areas of an apartment building would include lobbies, laundry rooms, stairwells, hallways, and fire escapes (basically, any part of the building which all of the tenants can access). In Helena, Montana, these areas must be kept reasonably clean and safe.
Under the laws of Montana, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to allow the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
Finally, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords generally must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Helena, Montana Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to avoid conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Helena, Montana attorney can help you protect your rights.