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Tenant’s right to cure defects

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Premises Liability |

Most renters in Montana assume that they are at the mercy of the landlord when it comes to curing defects in the premises before someone suffers a serious injury. In 1977, the Montana legislature anticipated this problem by passing a statute that specified the landlord’s duty to maintain the premises and provided remedies for tenants if their landlord fails to comply with the statute.

The statutory basics

Landlords must comply with applicable housing and building codes that were in effect when the building was constructed. The landlord must also do whatever is necessary to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.

Tenant’s remedies

If the landlord fails to fulfill his duties to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition, the tenant has several options. The first option is serving a notice of termination of the lease. If the landlord makes the necessary repair, the tenant has the option of terminating the lease in not less than 30 days after the notice was served.

If the defect recurs within six months after service of the notice, the tenant may terminate the lease. The tenant can also choose to make the repairs if the total cost is less than one month’s rental payment and deduct the cost of repairs from a future monthly rental payment.

Lawsuit seeking damages

The tenant has the right to commence a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief and damages if the landlord fails to comply with the lease or the statute.

The relationship between a landlord and a tenant can become very complex. The advice of a competent attorney can be a significant help if a dispute arises over a defect in the leased premises.


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