Montana Rent Control Laws in 2024

Rent control laws, which restrict how much landlords can increase rents each year, have faced mounting opposition across the U.S. in recent years.

Landlords, real estate investors, and industry groups have lobbied state legislatures to prohibit cities and counties from enacting rent control ordinances. They argue such measures inhibit new housing construction and discourage property owners from maintaining units. 

Since 1995, over 30 states have passed legislation preempting local governments from implementing rent stabilization policies. The latest victory for the rental housing industry came in Montana, where a new statewide ban on rent control was signed into law in 2023.

Montana's Statewide Ban on Rent Control

In March 2023, Montana passed a statewide ban on rent control with the signing of House Bill 463. The legislation prohibits cities, counties, and other local governments in Montana from enacting rent control ordinances or laws that would limit how much landlords can raise rents each year. 

House Bill 463 breezed through the Montana legislature in early 2023, passing the House by a 67-32 vote and later clearing the Senate 31-19. The bill received bipartisan support and was actively backed by landlord groups. Governor Greg Gianforte signed HB 463 into law on March 2nd, 2023, instituting a binding statewide preemption on local rent regulations.

The passage of HB 463 cements Montana's status as a state with an unregulated rental housing market. Landlords now have complete discretion to raise rents to market rates when leases expire or with proper notice. The rent control ban also applies to commercial properties. With the new law, Montana joins over 30 other states that prohibit local rent control ordinances.

Details of Montana's Rent Control Ban

Montana House Bill 463, passed in March 2023, prohibits cities and counties across the state from enacting rent control ordinances or other policies that would limit how much landlords can raise rents each year. Specifically, the new law defines rent control as "the establishment of controls on the amount of rent that may be charged for rental of private residential or commercial property." 

The law clarifies that no locality in Montana has the authority to impose these types of limits or caps on rent increases, underscoring that such regulations are now banned statewide. By preventing local governments from enacting rent control, even if they believe it's necessary to help renters in their communities, the state has severely restricted one of the main policy tools available to address affordable housing needs.

The bill passed with bipartisan support in the Montana legislature before being signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte. While the law does not set any limits on how much landlords can raise rents each year, it does solidify that they have free rein to increase rents to market rates without any rent control restrictions. Montana joins over 30 other states which have passed similar preemption laws prohibiting local rent regulations.

Arguments For and Against the Ban

Landlord Perspectives

Supporters of the statewide rent control ban argue it allows the free market to determine rental rates. Landlords say rent control would discourage investment in rental housing and decrease supply. They believe limiting rent increases also limits profits and incentives for providing housing. Many landlords view rent control as an infringement on their private property rights.

Advocacy groups like the Montana Landlord Association lobbied for the rent control ban. They say landlords need flexibility to raise rents to cover increasing costs like property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. Landlords argue they should be able to adjust rents based on market demand and without artificial caps.

Proponents say rent control ordinances would deter developers from building new affordable housing. They claim rent control causes properties to fall into disrepair due to landlords not having funds for upkeep. 

Overall, landlord groups see the preemption of local rent control as necessary to allow rental housing providers to thrive and operate profitable businesses in Montana.

Tenant Perspectives

Tenant advocates opposed the statewide prohibition on rent stabilization measures. They argue cities and counties should have local control to enact rent regulations as needed. 

Renters say landlords often raise rents arbitrarily without justification while providing no additional services or improvements. They feel landlords take advantage when demand is high and supply is limited.

Critics point out Montana has no restrictions on rent increases. They believe some regulation is reasonable to protect tenants from exorbitant hikes.

Affordable housing groups say low and middle income tenants need protections from being priced out of neighborhoods. They argue rent control helps prevent displacement and homelessness.

Opponents contend restricting rent increases does not stifle new construction or reduce housing quality. They cite studies showing rent control has minimal impact on development.

Renters believe the preemption undermines efforts to make housing more affordable. Without rent regulations, they feel vulnerable to uncontrolled rent hikes.

Impact on Montana Tenants  

With the passage of Montana's statewide ban on rent control, tenants face much uncertainty when it comes to rising housing costs. The new law prohibits any municipalities in Montana from enacting rent control ordinances that would limit how much landlords can increase rents each year. This leaves tenants vulnerable to dramatic rent hikes at any time.  

Landlords in Montana now have free rein to raise rents to match market rates whenever they choose. There are no caps or limits on how much rents can be increased from year to year. Tenants have no protections against excessive rent increases that could force them to move out due to unaffordability.  

Renters advocates warn that the lack of rent control could lead to housing instability and displacement if landlords decide to drastically hike rents. Low and middle income tenants are most at risk of being priced out of their homes. With rents continuing to rise statewide, the ban on local rent regulations gives landlords unlimited power over housing costs.

Montana Landlord Tenant Laws 

Like most states, Montana has laws that govern the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants when it comes to rentals. These laws provide important protections for both parties. 

One key aspect of Montana landlord tenant law relates to notice required for rent increases. Montana law states that a landlord must provide tenants with 30 days advance written notice before increasing rent on a month-to-month lease. This applies to residential and commercial rental properties. 

The notice must specify the new increased amount the tenant will be required to pay if they continue renting. Montana law does not limit how much landlords can raise rents, as long as proper notice is given.

If the tenant has a fixed term lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent until the end of the lease. To increase the rent after the term expires, the landlord still must provide 30 days written notice as required by law. 

Tenants should carefully review any notice of a rent increase they receive. Landlords must properly serve the notice according to legal requirements. Tenants who fail to pay the increased amount after receiving proper notice could face an eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent.

Rent Increase FAQs

What is the most a landlord can raise rent in Montana?

There are currently no limits on how much a landlord can raise rents in Montana. With the statewide ban on rent control, landlords have the ability to raise rents to market rates when a lease term expires, without any caps on the percentage increase.

When can a landlord raise rent in Montana?

Montana landlords must provide tenants with 30 days advance written notice before increasing rent on a month-to-month lease. Rent can only be increased after the initial lease term expires. There are no restrictions on how frequently rent can be raised.

Can a landlord raise rent in the middle of a lease term in Montana?

No, rent cannot be raised during the term of a fixed lease unless specifically allowed by the lease. Once the lease expires, landlords can raise rents with proper 30 day notice. Tenants with fixed term leases are protected from rent increases until the lease ends.

What if a tenant cannot afford a rent increase in Montana?

If a tenant cannot afford a rent increase in Montana, they can try negotiating with the landlord. However, without rent control protections, the landlord is not obligated to limit rent raises. A tenant facing an unaffordable increase may need to look for a less expensive apartment that better fits their budget.

What recourse do tenants have for a rent increase in Montana?

Montana tenants have very limited recourse options for dealing with rent increases due to the statewide ban on rent control ordinances. There are currently no rent increase dispute resolution services or tenant advocacy resources on a statewide level. Tenants cannot legally withhold rent solely based on a rent increase.

Renters' Rights in Montana

Montana tenants have basic rights and protections under state landlord-tenant laws and fair housing regulations. Key rights for renters in Montana include:


Landlords must maintain rental properties in habitable condition meeting basic health and safety standards. If a rental has serious defects, tenants can request repairs, withhold rent, or even break a lease under the Montana Residential Landlord Tenant Act.


Landlords must give tenants reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) before entering a rental. They can only enter for legitimate reasons like repairs or showing the unit.  

Fair Housing

Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, or marital status is illegal in Montana housing under fair housing laws.  

Security Deposits

Landlords cannot charge more than one month's rent for security deposits. Deposits must be returned within 30 days after a tenant moves out minus valid deductions.

Lease Termination

Tenants who stay after a fixed-term lease expires convert to month-to-month. Either party can terminate month-to-month tenancy by providing the other party 30 days written notice.

Eviction Rights

Landlords must go to court to formally evict if a tenant will not move out. Tenants have the right to defend against improper, retaliatory, or discriminatory evictions.

Knowing their rights as renters can empower Montana tenants to assert their legal protections if issues arise. Education and advocacy remain critical with the lack of rent control in Montana.

Resources for Montana Renters

Montana renters do not have to face excessive rent increases alone. Although statewide rent control is banned, tenant advocacy groups provide resources to empower and protect renters:

Montana Tenants' Rights Group

This nonprofit offers a tenant rights handbook explaining Montana landlord-tenant laws. They have chapters across the state providing counseling and legal aid for renters. Their website lists tenant rights FAQs and advocacy updates.

Billings Renters Alliance

This grassroots group in Billings organizes tenants and lobbies local politicians on housing issues. They host free monthly workshops on renters' rights and eviction defense. The alliance has a 24/7 tenant support hotline. 

Missoula Fair Housing

Based in Missoula, this agency promotes housing justice through counseling, education, and activism. They publish rent increase notices from major property managers to monitor trends. The group also tracks illegal rent hikes and harassment complaints.

Flathead Housing Alliance

Serving Northwest Montana, this alliance assists renters facing unfair evictions or illegal lease terms. Their pro-bono lawyers help tenants fight rent overcharges in court. The FHA organizes rallies, marches, and petitions for tenants' rights.

Helena Housing Coalition

With the state capital in mind, this group lobbies Montana lawmakers on behalf of renters. The coalition testifies on housing bills and rallies support for pro-tenant legislation. Their volunteers make calls and write letters urging state representatives to protect tenants.

Advice for Dealing With Rent Increases

With no statewide rent control in Montana, tenants have limited options when facing large rent increases. Here are some tips for tenants to make the process go more smoothly:

Negotiate with your landlord

Have an open conversation about the increase and see if they can limit it or phase it in over time. Provide details about your situation and ability to pay. Being proactive and polite can go a long way.

Ask about discounts

Inquire if the landlord offers any discounts for longer leases, paying early, going paperless, etc. Any concession helps reduce the net effective increase.

See if improvements can wait

Request putting off any non-essential upgrades planned for your unit or building until the following year so rents stay lower.

Consider downsizing

While not ideal, moving to a less expensive apartment nearby may be better than an unaffordable increase.

Look for roommates

Adding a roommate can open up more affordable options by splitting costs. Discuss with your landlord first.

Review your budget

Cut discretionary spending to free up cash for housing. Consider lower cost phone plans, dropping cable, dining out less, etc. 

Increase your income

Ask for a raise, take on freelance work or a part-time job to bring in more money to cover higher rent.

Get rental assistance

Check if you qualify for any local, state or federal rental assistance programs. These can provide help with deposits, rent and utilities.

Know your rights

Review Montana landlord-tenant law so you understand the required notices and limitations on rent increases. This will empower you as a renter.

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