Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s claims under the Montana Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1977 (Landlord-Tenant Act) and alleging violations of restrictive covenants, holding that the district court erred by dismissing Plaintiff’s claims alleging violations of the property covenants’ business use restrictions. Specifically, the Court held (1) where Plaintiff did not allege he was a landlord, tenant or guest or that he otherwise suffered an injury on the premises, Plaintiff could prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief under the Landlord-Tenant Act; and (2) Plaintiff’s business use allegations satisfied notice pleading requirements, and Plaintiff pled sufficient facts to allege a violation of the covenants based on noxious or offensive activity. View "Cossitt v. Flathead Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this landlord-tenant dispute, Landlord complied with the requirements of the Montana Residential Tenants’ Security Deposits Act prior to deducting costs of cleaning from the vacating Tenant’s security deposit, and therefore, Tenant was entitled to a return of her security deposit. Tenant filed an action in justice court asserting that Landlord improperly withheld a portion of her security deposit that the Landlord spent to clean the vacated property, in violation of Mont. Code Ann. 70-25-201(3). The justice court found that Landlord had violated the statute by failing to provide Tenant written notice of cleaning deficiencies or twenty-four hours to clean or fix any issues found during the inspection. The district court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Landlord complied with the requirements of state law before deducing the cost of cleaning from Tenant’s security deposit. View "Hines v. Topher Realty LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in dismissing, for lack of jurisdiction, Tenants’ appeal pursuant to Rule 14 of the Uniform Municipal Court Rules of Appeal to District Court (U. M. C. R. App.) prior to ruling on Tenants’ previously filed motion to proceed in forma pauperis. However, the justice court err in awarding a money judgment in excess of the court’s jurisdiction limit. Tenants appealed an underlying judgment of the justice court. The justice court dismissed the appeal for failure to timely file an appellate brief pursuant to U. M. C. R. App. 14. Tenants filed the notice of appeal together with a motion and application to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court summarily dismissed Tenants’ appeal pursuant to Rule 14(c). The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the appeal for Tenants’ failure to timely file an appellate brief but reversed and remanded for entry of a corrected judgment against Tenants in the amount of $13,426, holding that the justice court erred by awarding a money judgment $8,527 in excess of the court’s $12,000 jurisdictional limit. View "Alto Jake Holdings LLC v. Donham" on Justia Law

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In a previous landlord/tenant action in 2007, attorney Kevin Brown filed suit against Ronald Fick in district court on behalf of two tenants who alleged that Fick had unlawfully evicted them from a unit he manages. The district court found for Fick. Fick filed the present action in 2010, arguing that Brown had fraudulently brought the prior action in district court rather than in justice's court. The district court granted Brown's motion to dismiss, and Fick appealed. At issue was whether Mont. Code Ann. 3-10-302 confers concurrent jurisdiction on justices' and district courts for actions arising under the Landlord and Tenant Act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that (1) the clear terms of Montana law provide that justices' courts share concurrent jurisdiction with district courts; and (2) Fick's arguments were not made in good faith, Fick's appeal is frivolous and vexatious and filed for purposes of harassment, and sanctions are warranted. Remanded. View "Fick v. Brown" on Justia Law