HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – Landlords would be able to send their tenants to a collections agency for unpaid rent and other charges without a court ruling under a bill introduced to the Legislature.
Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports that Chris Mockel with the Helena Association of Realtors supports Senate Bill 184, which would also allow landlords to charge their tenants fees if they break their lease agreement. He says when landlords can’t collect debts from previous tenants, they transfer the cost into increased rents or higher security deposits.
“It’s a cost of doing business. And, if you’re just swallowing those costs of doing business, there has to be a recapture. When costs go up, then, it’s the consumer that’s impacted.”
Montana Associated Students lobbyist Sam Forstag says when a landlord sends a tenant to collections without a court ruling, they skip the tenant’s right to due process and being sent to collections has long-lasting impacts.
“These egregious and sometimes predatory practices that the bill would make room for in law are not hypothetical. The problem here is not that landlords are bad. The problem here is that this bill legalizes practice with that tremendous potential for abuse.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not immediately vote on the bill when it was heard Thursday.