Landlord Tenant Actions

The Montana Landlord and Tenant Act (MLTA) of 1977 provides for the rights and responsibilities of all Montana Landlords and Tenants.

Both Landlords and Tenants should know their rights and responsibilities in Montana Landlord Tenant law before entering into a rental or lease agreement.

MLTA can be accessed at Montana Code Annotated (MCA) Title 70 Chapters 24 and 25. Local libraries will provide the MCA or online access at MCA 2015.

If you are a Landlord and have given proper notice to the Tenant and the Tenant will not vacate, you may file an Action for Possession in Justice Court. Before you file you must have given proper notice to the Tenant.

If you are a Tenant and feel you are being evicted without cause, you may file an answer.

Instructions


Complaint & Summons


Fill out the Complaint and Summons in ink. You are the Plaintiff and the party(s) you want evicted is the Defendant(s). The Court will fill in the Cause Number. State the reason you are suing, include dates, reason for eviction etc. and who you want removed from what physical address. If there is more than one Defendant, use one summons for each Defendant.

Praecipe & Return


The Praecipe is your instructions to the process server or Sheriff.

File the Complaint


Mail or bring papers to the Court with the $50 filing fee. The Court will file the Complaint and issue the Summons.

Service


Take the Original Summons and copy of the Complaint to the Sheriff or a private process server. They will serve the original summons and a copy of the complaint and summons on each defendant named in the action. You will be required to pay a service fee for each original document to each Defendant for service. For information contact the Madison County Sheriff's Office at (406)843-5301. If Defendant lives out of County it is your responsibility to contact the Sheriff's Department in that County or a private process server.

After the Defendant Has Been Served


The Sheriff's office will return the original Summons to you with a Sheriff's Return, which shows if the Defendant was served, and date of service. It is your responsibility to return the original summons with return to the court.

Defendant's Answer


Defendant has 10 days excluding the date of service to file an Answer after date of service. If Defendant files an Answer with a $30 answer fee, denying allegations in the Complaint, the court will set a date for hearing.

Judgment by Default


If the Defendant does not file a written answer within the 10-day period, the Plaintiff will be entitled to a Judgment by Default.

Prepare for Hearing


To prepare for your case, it is beneficial that both parties have all facts written down.
  • Is there a written or oral contract or agreement?
  • What date was the contract oral or written entered into?
  • What are the terms of the agreement either oral or written?
  • When and how did Defendant breach the contract?
  • Have dates of all events in chronological order written down.
At the time of trial, the Judge will place you under oath and ask you to tell the facts of your case. Facts should be presented in the proper order in which they happened. First the Plaintiff tells his/her side, presents evidence and calls all Witnesses. Then Defendant will tell his/her side, presents evidence and call witnesses. Each party may cross examine the other party and the witnesses and ask any questions about evidence. After testimony, each side may make closing statements to sum up the case. The Judge will then decide.

Writ of Assistance


After hearing if Plaintiff is awarded Judgment, the Defendant will be ordered to leave. If Defendant does not vacate the property, Plaintiff may request a Writ of Assistance, which is an order issued by the Judge directing the Sheriff to remove Defendant from the property

The prevailing party will be required to pay a $20 Judgment Fee to the Court when Judgment is awarded. A Judgment fee is not required for a Default Judgment.