Most residential leases and rental agreements in Montana require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Montana landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Montana law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
No. In Montana, there's no statutory limit on security deposits at the state level, but check your city and county laws to see if your municipality has set a cap on security deposits for residential rentals.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Montana for returning a security deposit?
Under Montana law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property) and within 10 days if there are no deductions from the deposit.
Montana tenants are entitled to advance notice of cleaning charges that are the result of the tenant negligence.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Montana landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Montana?
Yes. In addition to complying with Montana laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in Montana must provide tenants with advance notice before taking any deductions out of the security deposit, such as or the cost of repairs for damage to the property).
Are nonrefundable fees permitted in Montana?
No, A fee or charge for cleaning and damages, no matter how designated, is presumed to be a security deposit. (Mon. Code Ann. § 70-25-101 (4)).
Where can I look up Montana law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Montana law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Montana Code Annotated §§ 70-25-101 to 70-25-206. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Montana. For tips on looking up Montana state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at