Montana Eviction Notices
Montana eviction notices may be used to inform a tenant of a lease violation or non-payment or rent. The notice informs the tenant that their lease will be terminated and the landlord will file a lawsuit against them if they do not comply or move out by a certain date. The length of the notice period and the available actions that are given to the tenant will depend on the rental agreement and the reason for eviction. For non-payment of rent and lease violations, the tenant will usually have the opportunity to remain on the premises by paying rent or remedying their non-compliance.
How to Evict a Tenant (Process)
The eviction process begins with the landlord serving the tenant an eviction notice. This document informs the tenant of the reasons for which they are being evicted and the conditions by which they may avoid eviction (if applicable). The notice also provides the date by which they must comply with the notice or move out. If the lessee does not comply with the eviction notice and/or move out by the date provided, the landlord may terminate the lease and file an eviction lawsuit against them. Under no circumstances may a landlord evict a tenant without first obtaining a court order.
Step 1 – Montana Eviction Notice
When filling out the Montana Eviction Notice, the landlord will need to select the appropriate checkbox to indicate the reason for the eviction and the number of days’ notice the tenant will receive. Tenants who have not paid rent or who have committed lease violations as per § 70-24-422(1, 3, 4) must receive at least three (3) days notice to pay the owed amount, fix the violations, or move out. All other lease violations should give the tenant fourteen (14) days notice. If the lessee commits the same lease violation a second time within a six (6) month period, they will be given five (5) days to vacate the rental unit. Month-to-month and week-to-week tenancies require at least thirty (30) days or seven (7) days notice, respectively, prior to the termination of an agreement. Once the landlord has filled out and signed the notice, they should make at least one (1) copy to keep for their personal records and to be presented in court if necessary.
Step 2 – Serve the Notice to Tenant
Serve the tenant with the notice. Either deliver it personally or send it by first-class mail with a Certificate of Mailing receipt. If the notice is delivered in-person, the landlord should have the tenant sign a copy as proof of service or have a witness present who is willing to testify in court.
Step 3 – Complaint, Summons, Request for Service, Order, and Judgment Forms
Once the notice period has passed, if the tenant has not complied or moved out, the landlord can terminate the rental agreement and file an eviction lawsuit against them. To file an eviction lawsuit, the landlord will need to fill out a complaint against the tenant, a court summons, and a request for these documents to be served to the tenant. Furthermore, they will need to file an order and judgment to be completed by the court clerk’s office. All of these forms can be found in the “Asking the Court to Evict Your Tenant” packet. Make at least two (2) copies of each completed document.
Step 4 – File Forms With Clerk
Bring all of the court forms, a copy of the signed notice, a copy of the lease, and any proof of non-compliance to the city, municipal, justice or district court of the county/municipality in which the rental property is located to file an eviction action with the Clerk of Court’s office there. Obtain two (2) stamped copies of the Complaint form. Filing fees must be paid for at the time and submission. The cost of filing an eviction and the accepted payment methods will depend on the court in which the case is filed. Click here to view the current district court fee schedule.
Step 5 – Serve Complaint and Summons
After the action has been filed, the tenant will be served with the complaint and summons by the local sheriff’s office. Next, the sheriff’s office will supply the landlord with a proof of service which must be filed with Clerk of Court’s office.
Once the tenant has received the complaint and summons, they will have ten (10) business days to file a written answer to the complaint. If the tenant does not file an answer or present themselves at the trial, the judge will rule in favor of the landlord by default.
Step 6 – Attend Trial
The landlord must attend the trial and bring any witnesses that can testify on their behalf. They should also bring copies of all of their relevant eviction documentation and evidence (lease, a copy of the eviction notice, payment history, proof of lease violation, etc.). If the Judgment form was not taken by the Court of Clerk’s office, the landlord will need to present it to the judge. Once the judge has heard the testimony of the landlord, tenant, and witnesses, they will rule in favor of the landlord or the tenant and sign the Judgment form. The party who is ruled against may be required to pay a portion or all of the legal fees for the person who won the case.
Step 7 – Remove Tenant
If the ruling is made in favor of the landlord, the tenant must vacate the rental property within a certain period of time. In the event that the tenant does not move out within the court-ordered time period, the landlord can request a sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant from the premises of the rental property.