MLSA Housing Attorney Amy Halls visited the Montana Legislature on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 to testify against Senate Bills 239 and 255. If passed, the two bills would allow tenants who abandon rentals without giving notice to be charged with theft and would allow landlords to ask courts to collect money from tenants who have judgements against them until the amount owed is paid in full.
Based on her years of experience as a housing attorney at MLSA, Hall knows that these laws could have major repercussions for tenants throughout Montana. While recognizing the difficult position landlords are put in when their tenants miss rent payments, she says that the two bills go too far in targeting tenants. “You can’t go to jail for debts on unpaid bills, but this [bill] would change that,” Hall testified. “We abolished incarceration of people who failed to pay their debts centuries ago. Do we want to return to the days of debtor’s prison?”
Instead, Hall says that we need to ensure that our justice system provides comparable remedies to tenants who have been wronged by a landlord, just as it provides remedies to landlords. To read more about Senate Bills 239 and 255, click here.