It's a scary time to be a renter in the state of Montana. It's been that way for several years but now more than ever, as property owners across the state have received their new property tax bills - and some of the increases are alarming for owners and renters alike.

Property owners who do have renters, have wasted no time in alerting their tenants to prepare for significant rent increases. Leases must be honored for their duration, but if someone is renting month to month - a heads up of 30 days is usually all that's required. (Some Montana counties have attempted to adjust those time periods, but it's really a state law thing.)

But this article isn't about the minutiae of renters and owners rights - it's simply about the heartbreaking reactions that renters have posted in various community groups online. They're scared. Terrified, in some cases, and rightfully so. The prospect of being priced out of yet another home or apartment has reared it's ugly face a BIG way.

This is just an example of what is being posted by renters now facing very significant rent increases. The story is very similar in dozens of Montana counties, but especially in areas surrounding Bozeman and Missoula.

I need advice here. My landlord is raising my rent $650, which is almost a 65% increase of what I'm paying now. I am in a 2 bedroom. The landlord is fine, takes care of things, covers mowing in summer and sidewalks in winter. I asked him why this increase and he stated that it is due to his tax increases this year. I didn't believe him, and texted me photos of his tax bill, dated from last week, and it's true he was not lying.

  • "I think a sales tax is coming. The administration has purposely increased property taxes to a point that a sales tax doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore." (There were lots of replies to such suggestions, with various reason why a sales tax was a bad idea. A sales tax has been debated, voted on, and so far defeated for YEARS across Montana.)
  • "We have rented for a very long time but my partner is a handyman so we offer some of his services when needed to try and always 'keep a balance' with our property owner. It's worked pretty good so far."
  • "A lot of the 'urban campers' are former renters who basically got tossed."
  • "We LOVED our landlord. He ran into the same thing: raised taxes, raised HOA fees, everything..... We were SO thankful for the 5+ years he offered us affordable housing. It just couldn't last. I'm sorry!"
  • "It's no different for us homeowners other than it is much more complicated to move to cheaper housing. Remember this when you vote. Taxes hurt renters just as much as homeowners."
  • "We are on our 3rd rental in 3 years and all have been month to month. Seems like a convenient thing to do until you realize that gives the landlords way more flexibility to raise rents if they want/need."
  • "Many do not understand this and assume that landlords are just being greedy- many peoples taxes have dramatically increased this year."
  • "Wages never kept up with rents in places like Bozeman. Lots of us who went to college there and wanted to stay, couldn't afford to. But now people are making $20+ an hour at fast food???"
  • "If you look at the tax bill and see where the increases are It will really make you wonder where the money is being spent. The population increase in gallatin county was 2.36% from 22 to23. But our property taxes went up 35.73%"
  • "They shouldn’t be running public funds this way. But DAMN we have some nice dog parks!!"
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  • "It's our fault. Voting for the clowns we have."
  • "I rent and have two kids. Even if money were less of an issue (and it's definitely an issue) moving often when you have kids is incredibly hard on them."
  • "Stop electing the same idiots that continue to do this! Put people in place who will fight to lower the cost of living instead of lining their own pockets."
  • "The immediate short term answer is to add a roommate to help defray the higher rent."
  • "Now I'm scared it's going to happen to us."
  • "We knew it was not going to be good. We don't own, we rent. But lots of our friends bought houses just a few years ago and some of them wish they hadn't. The taxes around here are killing everyone."
  • "Mine only went up $850 TOTAL, or around 22%. I wonder if he was going off of and misunderstanding the “taxable value”."
  • "Our property taxes went up 50% and we just have a plain house that's 42 years old."
  • "I hear Anaconda is a nice place to live."
  • "I haven't got my tax bill yet, but from what people are saying here, I'm dreading it. Renters need to understand that when taxes rise, inflation hits, products and services cost more, some of that has to be passed on in the form of rent increases."
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

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