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Governor prohibits evictions and foreclosures in Montana during "stay at home" order

Posted at 4:28 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 19:42:11-04

GREAT FALLS — Governor Steve Bullock issued an order on Tuesday prohibiting evictions of tenants and prohibiting landlords from charging late fees on rentals for the duration of his "stay at home" order, which runs through April 10th (but could be extended).

The order also prevents water or heat from being shut off during the state of emergency; several utility companies in Montana have already announced they were forgoing utility shutoffs during this period.

Bullock announced the "stay at home" order last week; it runs through April 10. The order closed certain businesses considered nonessential and advised people to only leave their homes to get food, go to work at essential businesses, and care for loved ones.

The order states: "For the duration of the Directive, landlords are prohibited from terminating a lease or refusing to renew or extend the terms of a current lease agreement, at least on a month-to-month basis. It also prohibits late fees or other penalties due to late or nonpayment of rent, prohibits rent increases except for those previously agreed upon and prohibits landlords from seeking damages in court due to nonpayment of rent. The Directive also stops involuntary sales of homes, foreclosures, liens placed on residential properties or late fees charged due to inability to pay mortgage payments on time for the duration of the Directive. The Directive does not relieve tenants from paying rent or borrowers from paying mortgages or other financial obligations related to homeownership."

The order also prohibits the suspension of utilities during the emergency, including electricity, gas, sewage disposal, water, telephone, or internet services, and prohibits late fees for bills due during the state of emergency outlined in the directive. The Directive also requires public housing authorities to extend deadlines for housing assistance recipients.

Bullock also said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference that of the 184 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Montana, 32 of them have recovered. He also announced that there has been a fifth COVID-19 death in the state; no details about that death, including the location, have been released yet.


Here is a summary of recent COVID-19 articles:

QUARANTINE FOR TRAVELERS: On Monday afternoon, Governor Steve Bullock directed that travelers arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. Bullock said the directive applies both to Montana residents and non-residents entering the state for non-work-related purposes. It requires a self-quarantine for 14 days, or the duration of a non-work trip to Montana, whichever is shorter. It also instructs the Montana Department of Commerce to advise vacation listing and rental sites that they must notify potential out-of-state renters about the quarantine requirement. Health care workers are excluded from the directive. In addition, the directive authorizes the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks at Montana airports and rail stations and screen for potential exposure history for travelers arriving in Montana from another state or country.

STATE SUMMARY: As of Tuesday morning (March 31), there are now 184 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montana, and four deaths, according to the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS). Here are the counties with the most confirmed cases in Montana:

Gallatin 69; Yellowstone 28; Missoula 12; Lewis & Clark 11; Butte-Silver Bow 11; Flathead 11; Cascade 8; Toole 6; Madison 6; Lincoln 5; Broadwater 3; Deer Lodge 3; Lake 3; Park 3.

Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site. There have now been 14 hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Montana. County health departments and the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services release data by county only, and do not provide information on which towns the patients live in.

As of Monday evening, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed more than 4,411 tests for COVID-19. Officials know that the number of actual cases is undoubtedly much higher, and are continuing to test in accordance with CDC guidelines. The "recovery rate" for Montana has not yet been determined, as COVID-19 is still relatively new in our state and there is not enough data to calculate an accurate rate at this point.