Break Your Lease…Go to Jail

A proposed bill in the Montana state legislature is considering criminalizing people who break their lease and move out early.  In addition to this, another bill is being considered that would allow courts to collect financial judgements against renters for unpaid rent on behalf of landlords.  The bill is being sponsored by Senator Roger Webb on behalf of the Montana Landlords Association.  Webb, a landlord himself, owns “scores of rental units…and maintains hundreds of others.”  No surprise there.

Using some incredibly fucked-up logic, Webb said:

“If you abandon that property without prior notice, it would constitute theft,” Webb said.

“If I fill my car up with gas and drive off without pay, that’s theft. We have these properties, and we expect to be paid,” he said, asserting that …current laws put property owners at a disadvantage against bad tenants who skip out on rent.

Really?!  Considering this bill criminalizes the breaking of a rental lease even by tenants who are current on rent, this is hardly theft!  To put Webb’s statement to a reality check, it would go something more like this:

“If I go in to a gas station and tell them I want to put $20 worth of gas in my car, and then realize I’ve lost my debit/credit card and therefore I can’t pay for the aforementioned gas and so drive off without putting any gas in my tank, I should, therefore, go to jail”

Are these people for real?!  Does anyone actually think about this kind of crap before they slop it up for legislative consumption?  How punitive as a society do we want to believe?

Basically, go to jail if you’re poor…or if you have a crappy landlord and you want to move to a better location…or if you’ve lost your job.  I could go on and on but hopefully you get the point.

Thank you to US for the information.  Please see the link below for more detail and analysis of this subject: