A lease, often referred to as a rental agreement or rental contract, is a legal contract allowing a person or persons possession of another person’s property for a specific time in return for a payment.  A lease can be a very complex, voluminous document or it can be a simple one page, pre-printed form purchased from the office supply store.

No matter what format the lease takes, it is the responsibility of all parties which will be bound by the lease to read and understand the lease before signing. Ignorance of the contents of the lease is not an excuse for non-performance.  It is highly recommended that anyone signing a “Third party co-signer” agreement,also read the lease.  After all, they are equally responsible for the performance of the lessor (renter).

All too often, our tenants do not take the time to review the lease and then they find themselves in a bad situation because they failed to understand the terms of the lease and their responsibilities, as defined by the lease.  In Montana, leases are held “jointly and severally”, which means that each lessor is 100% responsible for the property.  For example, (this does happen) if there are four roommates and three of the roommates don’t return after spring break, the remaining roommate is still responsible for the terms of the lease.  In other words, the remaining roommate still needs to pay the full amount of rent, utilities, etc.