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Legislators Hear Landlord Bill

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill Monday, Feb. 20, that would allow landlords to forgo some restrictions surrounding security deposits. Under the proposed bill, landlords could charge cleanliness and damage fees to former tenants without giving them notice if they leave without warning or are forcibly evicted.

Rep. Steven Galloway, R-Great Falls, is the sponsor of House Bill 488. He said there was no point in requiring landlords to ask tenants who are already gone or being evicted to clean for the next round of tenants.

“The typical rundown is a tenant gives you notice, you take your condition sheet, you go inspect the unit, you find a few things are deficient, you give them 24 hours to make those things good before they check out so you can refund their deposit. But if you’ve had to start a court action to get the place back or they’ve just left and you’ve — in a court action, it doesn’t make sense that you still have to send that letter,” Galloway said.

There was one proponent of the bill. John Sinrud represented the Montana Landlords Association and said asking tenants who are being evicted to clean a place they won’t be living in doesn’t usually go well and asking former tenants to go back in to clean up after they’re evicted could open the door to larger problems like squatting.

“Why would you want to allow that tenant to go back into that unit once they’ve been physically removed by the sheriff? So that’s really a kind of a conflict in the law, and what is the landlord to do?” Sinrud said.

There were no opponents of the bill and the committee did not take immediate action.

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