The rental application process is an incredibly delicate one because of the long-term implications it has. A new tenant can be a gem that you will never have an issue with. On the flip side, you could end up dealing with disregard for your property, unpaid rent, and other issues that make things very inconvenient.
A Montana landlord aims to use the application document as the precursor to a screening procedure that will help to better understand the potential that an applicant displays as a renter.
Being able to choose a tenant effectively requires landlords to craft proper documentation, bearing in mind the requirements for criminal history, rental history, and a credit check. Additionally, the legal element that goes into the rental equation cannot be dismissed. All the information below will help you determine who is worthy of your property.
What To Include
Montana landlords have quite a bit of wiggle room to decide what they what to find out from potential tenants. The rental application form is meant to be a reflection of all you would want to confirm with someone looking to become a tenant on your property. Some of the items you may request are:
- Written consent for a credit check
- Personal information of every intended tenant
- Income details
- Employment information
- Rental history
- Personal references
What Not To Include
While you want to rent your space to a good tenant, you can't exactly ask for whatever you want to with no boundaries in Montana. That's because the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) imposes limitations where items would be considered discrimination. Therefore, you cannot request the following protected classes of information from prospective tenants:
- Familial status
- Disability status
At the state level, Montana prevents a landlord from asking tenant hopefuls about their marital status, creed, or familial status.
It's natural for landlords to want to know who they're potentially entering into a rental contract with. For example, you don't want to rent or lease a space to someone who can't afford to pay. The background check element of the screening procedure is meant to help alleviate some of the uncertainty, and it has three elements:
- The criminal history element helps a landlord to find out if there are any records that the potential tenant has in the state's database or at the national level.
- The credit history check is next and it can offer a lot of insight into an applicant who has indicated an interest in a rental offering. This information includes past credit inquiries, income, past addresses, etc. Potential tenants must provide written consent before these reports may be generated
A Montana landlord will also have a vested interest in the historic rental report of a possible tenant. Eviction data will be preserved for up to seven years.
No Montana law limits the amount a landlord can require as an application fee for a rental offering. However, there is never a need to go overboard. Try to stick to covering the typical costs a landlord may face when doing screening or other administrative tasks.
Security deposits work a lot like application fees. No Montana law puts a cap on what a landlord may request of a potential tenant as a security deposit. In a typical rental agreement, the landlord will typically request one month's rent or two.
Note that no law requires a landlord to provide a receipt to a tenant for a security deposit. Additionally, the holding requirements that are often synonymous with rental situations in other states are non-existent here.
Create Your Own
Once you've selected your lucky applicant and the documents provided have been approved, the person will then go through transitioning into an official tenant. As a part of this, the landlord must set up a lease agreement. There are two ways to go about this:
- Standard agreement between landlord and tenant: PDF | Word
- Customizable agreement between landlord and tenant
Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities
It's good to understand the line of responsibilities between a tenant and a landlord for an applicant to have the smoothest experience possible after being accepted. Based on the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords must:
- Ensure building compliance with state and local codes
- Keep common areas reasonably safe
- Effect necessary repairs to keep the rental premises fit
- Ensure the tenant has the names and contact information of the landlord or designated agent if applicable
As far as the tenant goes, here are the responsibilities:
- Pay the agreed rent, security deposit, and utility costs
- Properly dispose of all garbage
- Keep the premises clean
- Comply with all local, state, and federal regulations
Adverse Action Notices
After getting the required consent to do background checks, you may discover information that may make you want to take adverse action against an applicant who hoped to rent your space. These actions include:
- Higher rent requirements
- Increasing the security deposit
- Rejecting the application
- Establishing a requirement for a co-signer
These actions cannot be carried out without first giving the notice in writing to the potential tenant, who has 60 days to file a dispute.
Between getting consent, handling security deposits, and more, the rental application workflow can be a very tedious one to get through. What if you didn't have to bear the full responsibilities alone?
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Are There Ever Exceptions to the Items a Landlord Is Barred from Asking about on the Montana Rental Application Form?
Yes, there are in very specific circumstances. For example, in age-restricted living, asking for someone's age may become relevant.
What Is a Fair Application Fee Requirement of a Potential Tenant?
The application fees are meant to cover any costs the landlord would incur during the processing and screening phase. You could consider setting up your charge based on this.
Where Can Eviction Record Details Be Accessed?
Eviction details in Montana are a part of the public record. You may find them by visiting the Montana Supreme Court Docket Search.