Montana

Montana renters could face jail for skipping out on rent

HELENA, Mont. - Renters who skip out on leases could be facing criminal charges under a proposal by a Montana landlord who also is a member of the state legislature.

Republican Sen. Roger Webb of Billings also wants courts to help landlords collect back rent.

Critics, however, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the bills go too far and would bring back debtor's prisons.

Speakers representing students from the state's university systems raised concern that the bills could turn young renters into felons for skipping out on rent.

Webb said that skipping out on rent is no different than driving off from a gas station without paying for fuel.

A lobbyist from the Montana Magistrates Association also raised concern about turning the court system into a collection agency.


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