Rent too high

Reader’s Viewpoint
Thursday, March 3, 2022

Montana has become a prime destination for out-of-state residents looking for homes in a state that has close access to pristine rivers, stunning hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. Between 2010 and 2020, Montana’s population grew 10%. Housing availability has not caught up to this rapid increase in population. According to Greg Hertz, over that same time span the number of housing units has only increased by 7%. Because of this, prices have soared exponentially. In 2010, the average monthly rent for a studio apartment in Montana was $444. By 2020, that number skyrocketed to $588, which states was a 30% increase.

Montanans simply spend too much on rent. Although it is recommended that no one spend over 30% of their monthly income on housing, almost 70% of renters surveyed in 2021 by MontPIRG exceed this mark.

This problem is perpetuated by inadequate renters rights legislation. As long as landlords issue a notice “at least 15 days before the expiration of the month, (they may) change the terms of the lease to take effect at the expiration of the month” (Montana Code 70-26-109). This means that as long as landlords notify renters of a price increase, they may increase rent to any amount whatsoever.

Montanans saw a boom in population as out-of-state residents are drawn to our world class fishing, biking, and hiking areas. This, paired with a lack in housing development, caused a massive increase in rent prices. It is time for the Montana legislature to pass sensible legislation that protects renters from unreasonable price increase.

By filling out a renter survey with MontPIRG, you can help us to compile data that demonstrates how severe this problem is.

Wyatt Balius

Missoula, Mont.

The Laurel Outlook


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