Montana Prompt Payment Overview

Montana’s prompt payment statutes set forth specific timeframes when general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and others involved with a construction project must be paid.  This page provides an overview of these regulations, and addresses some frequently asked questions related to the Montana prompt payment laws.

Montana Prompt Payment for Private Projects FAQs

Prompt Payment Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have To Send A Letter or File Anything To Qualify For Prompt Payment Penalties or Remedies in Montana?

Montana’s prompt payment requirements are conditioned upon payments becoming due by virtue of ongoing or completed performance of the contract. However, in order for payment to become due from the owner to the GC, the GC must provide a billing statement in accordance with the parties’ contract. In order to recover attorneys’ fees, a party must prevail in an action to enforce a requirement of the Act.

Can I Include Prompt Payment Fees In My Montana Mechanics Liens Claim or Bond Claim?

No. Montana doesn’t allow miscellaneous amounts to be included on the face of a mechanics lien.

Are there reasons for which payment may be withheld past the general deadline?

Montana allows payments to be withheld for the following reasons:

  1. Unsatisfactory progress of the project;
  2. Failure of the contractor or sub to remedy defective construction work or materials;
  3. Disputed work or materials;
  4. Non-compliance with material provisions of the contract;
  5. Failure of a contractor to make timely payment for claims;
  6. Damage to the owner;
  7. Upon reasonable evidence that the project is unable to be c completed for the unpaid balance of the contract.
What is the best practice for making a demand to a non-paying party to get prompt payment fees?

Sending a notice of intent to lien and prompt payment demand is generally the best method for encouraging parties to make payment.

If I am paid late according to prompt payment statutes, can I obtain interest or other penalty payments?

If payment is late pursuant to the requirements of the prompt pay act, interest accrues at the rate of 1.5% per month. However, if a final payment is accepted, no claim may be made for interest on the payment.

Montana Prompt Payment for Public Projects FAQs

Prompt Payment Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Have To Send A Letter or File Anything To Qualify For Prompt Payment Penalties or Remedies in Montana?

Montana’s prompt payment requirements are conditioned upon payments becoming due by virtue of ongoing or completed performance of the contract. However, in order for payment to become due from the owner to the GC, the GC must provide a billing statement in accordance with the parties’ contract. In order to recover attorneys’ fees, a party must prevail in an action to enforce a requirement of the Act.

Can I Include Prompt Payment Fees In My Montana Mechanics Liens Claim or Bond Claim?

No. Montana law does not allow for the recovery of miscellaneous amounts in a bond claim.

If I am paid late according to prompt payment statutes, can I obtain interest or other penalty payments?

If payment to GC is late pursuant to the requirements of the prompt pay act, interest accrues at the rate of 0.05% per day. If payment to a sub is late pursuant to the requirements of the prompt pay act, interest accrues at the rate of 10% per year. Note, however, that interest does not accrue on payments withheld pursuant to a good faith dispute. Also note that if a final payment is accepted, no claim may be made for interest on the payment.

Are there reasons for which payment may be withheld past the general deadline?

Montana allows payments to be withheld for the following reasons:

  1. Unsatisfactory progress of the project;
  2. Failure of the contractor or sub to remedy defective construction work or materials;
  3. Disputed work or materials;
  4. Non-compliance with material provisions of the contract;
  5. Failure of a contractor to make timely payment for claims;
  6. Damage to the owner;
  7. Upon reasonable evidence that the project is unable to be c completed for the unpaid balance of the contract.

Montana Prompt Payment Statutes

Getting informed about prompt payment laws is important. An examination of Montana’s prompt payment laws, the rules and regulations related to payment timing, is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a party on a construction project. Montana’s specific laws can be found in: Mont. Code Ann. §§ 28-2-2101 – 28-2-2117, Mont. Code §§ 17-8-241 – 17-8-244, and are reproduced below.

Prompt Payment Statute on Private Projects

28-2-2101: Definitions

As used in this part, unless the context requires otherwise, the following terms apply:
(1) “Construction contract” means a written agreement between an owner and a contractor for the contractor to construct or improve or to provide construction management for the construction or improvement of an improvement to real property.
(2) “Contractor” means a person who has signed a construction contract with an owner.
(3) “Government entity” means a city, town, county, consolidated municipal-county government, school district, or other special district.
(4) “Improve” means to build, alter, demolish, repair, construct, expand, cover, excavate, grade, fill, clear, plant, landscape, or furnish material or labor, or both for an improvement.
(5) “Improvement” means all or a part of a residential or commercial building, structure, area of real property, quantity of earth or fill material, tree or shrubbery, driveway, roadway, or parking area.
(6) “Owner” means a governmental entity or private entity that has a legal interest in the real property improved or to be improved by the performance of the construction contract. An owner may, in the contract, designate another person to represent the owner for the purpose of overseeing the performance of the construction contract and in handling administrative tasks respecting the construction contract.
(7) “Receipt” or “receive” means actual receipt.
(8) “Subcontract” means a contract between a contractor and a subcontractor or between a subcontractor and another subcontractor, the purpose of which is the performance of all or a part of the construction contract.
(9) “Subcontractor” means a person who has contracted with a contractor or another subcontractor for the purposes of performance of all or a part of a subcontract.

28-2-2102: Performance EntitlesContractor or Subcontractor to Payment

(1) Performance by a contractor of a construction contract in accordance with the provisions of the contract entitles a contractor to payment from the owner.

(2) Performance by a subcontractor of a subcontract entitles the subcontractor to payment from the contractor.

28-2-2103. Payment to Contractor and Subcontractor

(1) (a) Except as provided in 28-2-2115, each construction contract governed by this section must define, within the contract, a monthly billing cycle for the contractor to submit monthly progress payment requests and final payment requests to the owner. The contractor shall submit payment requests to the owner. Payment requests must be based upon actual or estimated work performed and materials supplied during the preceding monthly billing cycle. This requirement does not preclude an owner from mutually agreeing with the contractor to prepay for materials. The owner is considered to have received a payment request when the payment request is submitted to any person designated by the owner in the contract to receive the payment request.
(b) Except as provided in 28-2-2115, a contractor’s request for payment is considered approved by the owner 21 days after receipt of the request by the owner or the person designated in the contract by the owner to receive the payment request unless, prior to that time, the owner provides the contractor with a written statement containing specific items in the request for payment that are being disapproved by the owner.
(c) The owner may disapprove the request for payment or a portion of the request based upon a claim of:
(i) unsatisfactory job progress;
(ii) failure to remedy defective construction work or materials;
(iii) disputed work or materials;
(iv) failure to comply with material provisions of the construction contract or accompanying documents, including but not limited to payroll certifications, lien releases, warranties, material certifications, and test data;
(v) failure of a contractor to make timely payment for claims, including but not limited to claims for labor, equipment, materials, subcontracts, taxes, fees, professional services, rent, and royalties;
(vi) damage to the owner; or
(vii) the existence of reasonable evidence that the construction contract cannot be completed for the unpaid balance of the contract sum.
(d) An owner may withhold from a payment only an amount that is sufficient to pay the direct expenses that the owner may reasonably expect will be necessary to correct any claim based on the items set out in subsection (1)(c).
(e) A written statement by an owner must be furnished to the contractor specifying a condition that is listed in subsection (1)(c) for which approval of the request for payment or a portion of the request for payment is being withheld. If an owner disapproves only a portion of a request for payment, the remainder of the request for payment must be considered approved.
(f) Except as provided in 28-2-2115, if an owner approves all or a portion of a contractor’s request for payment as provided in subsection (1)(b), the owner shall pay the contractor the approved amount within 7 days after the contractor’s request for payment is approved.
(g) Upon written request of a subcontractor who has not been paid for work in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2), an owner shall notify the subcontractor of a progress payment or final payment made to the general contractor.
(h) Payment is not required under this subsection (1) unless the contractor provides the owner with a billing statement or estimate for the work performed or the material supplied in accordance with the terms of the contract.
(2) (a) Within 7 days after a contractor receives a periodic or final payment from an owner or a state agency, the contractor shall pay the subcontractor, if any, the full amount due the subcontractor in accordance with the subcontract for work performed or materials provided in accordance with that subcontract.
(b) Payment is not required under this subsection (2) unless the subcontractor provides the contractor a billing statement or invoice for work performed or materials supplied pursuant to the terms of the subcontract.
(c) Prior to submitting a monthly or final pay application to the owner, the general contractor may disapprove the subcontractor’s request for payment or a portion of the request based upon a written claim of any of the conditions listed in subsection (1)(c).
(3) (a) Within 7 days after a subcontractor receives a periodic or final payment from a contractor, the subcontractor shall pay another subcontractor, if any, the full amount due the subcontractor under the subcontract for work performed or materials provided in accordance with that subcontract.
(b) Payment is not required under this subsection (3) unless the subcontractor provides the contractor a billing statement or invoice for work performed or materials supplied pursuant to the terms of the subcontract.

28-2-2104: Obligations Upon Delay of Payment

(1) If a periodic or final payment that is required by a construction contract to be paid by an owner to a contractor is delayed by more than 30 days from the date the payment is required by the contract to be made, the owner shall pay to the contractor interest, beginning on the day following the date when the payment is due, at the rate of 1 1/2% a month or a pro rata fraction of that amount on the unpaid balance. If the contractor receives interest from the owner for a delayed payment by the owner, the contractor shall ensure that any interest accrued on a delayed payment is distributed by the contractor to subcontractors on a pro rata basis.

(2) If a periodic or final payment required by a subcontract to be paid by a contractor to a subcontractor is delayed for more than 30 days from the date the payment is required by the subcontract to be made, the contractor shall pay to the subcontractor interest beginning on the day following the date when the payment is due, at the rate of 1 1/2% a month or a pro rata fraction of that amount on the unpaid balance. If a subcontractor receives interest from the contractor for a delayed payment by the contractor, the subcontractor shall ensure that any interest accrued on the delayed payment is distributed by the subcontractor to other subcontractors, if any, on a pro rata basis.

(3) Acceptance of the final payment releases any claim for interest on the payment.

28-2-2105: Prevailing Party Entitled to Costs and Attorney Fees

In a civil action on a contract to enforce an obligation imposed by this part, the prevailing party is entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs, both for trial and appeal. If the parties to a construction contract or subcontract use arbitration, the arbitrator may award fees and costs as the arbitrator may determine.

28-2-2106: Remedies not exclusive

The remedies provided by this part are not exclusive of any other remedy provided by law or contract.

28-2-2107. Exception for Certain Residential Dwellings

The provisions of this part do not apply to residential projects or improvements to real property intended for residential purposes with a total cost of less than $400,000.

28-2-2108 through 28-2-2109 Reserved

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28-2-2110: Limit on Retainage

(1) The maximum retainage applied to construction contracts subject to the provisions of this part may not exceed 5%.

(2) The retainage percentage withheld by an owner, as provided in subsection (1), from a construction contractor is the maximum retainage that a construction contractor may withhold from a subcontractor.

(3) Retainage must be released upon the final acceptance of each portion of work for which a separate price is stated in the construction contract.

28-2-2111: Construction Contract Indemnification Provisions

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), a construction contract provision that requires one party to the contract to indemnify, hold harmless, insure, or defend the other party to the contract or the other party’s officers, employees, or agents for liability, damages, losses, or costs that are caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the other party or the other party’s officers, employees, or agents is void as against the public policy of this state.

(2) A construction contract may contain a provision:
(a) requiring one party to the contract to indemnify, hold harmless, or insure the other party to the contract or the other party’s officers, employees, or agents for liability, damages, losses, or costs, including but not limited to reasonable attorney fees, only to the extent that the liability, damages, losses, or costs are caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of a third party or of the indemnifying party or the indemnifying party’s officers, employees, or agents; or
(b) requiring a party to the contract to purchase a project-specific insurance policy, including but not limited to an owner’s and contractor’s protective insurance, a project management protective liability insurance, or a builder’s risk insurance.

(3) This section does not apply to indemnity of a surety by a principal on a construction contract bond or to an insurer’s obligation to its insureds.

(4) As used in this section, “construction contract” means an agreement for architectural services, alterations, construction, demolition, design services, development, engineering services, excavation, maintenance, repair, or other improvement to real property, including any agreement to supply labor, materials, or equipment for an improvement to real property.

28-2-2112 through 28-2-2114 Reserved

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28-2-2115: Alternative Billing Cycle

(1) A construction contract may provide for a billing cycle other than a monthly billing cycle if the construction contract specifically sets forth another billing cycle and either of the following applies:
(a) a notice in substantially the following form, setting forth the other billing cycle, appears in clear and conspicuous type in the “Information for Bidders” section of the construction documents:

Notice of Alternate Billing Cycle 

This contract allows the owner to require the submission of payment requests in billing cycles other than once a month. Payment requests for this contract must be submitted as follows: __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________; or
(b) a notice in substantially the following form, setting forth the other billing cycle, appears in clear and conspicuous type in the “Information for Bidders” section of the construction documents:

Notice of Alternate Billing Cycle 

This contract allows the owner to require the submission of payment requests in billing cycles other than once a month. A written description of the other billing cycle applicable to the project is available from the owner or the owner’s designated agent at (telephone number or address, or both), and the owner or the owner’s designated agent must provide this written description on request.
(2) An owner may change the number of days to approve a contractor’s payment request to later than 21 days after the date the payment request is submitted if:
(a) the construction contract in a clear and conspicuous manner specifically provides for a later approval date defined by a specified number of days after the payment request is submitted; and
(b) a notice in substantially the following form, setting forth the specified number of days, appears in clear and conspicuous type in the “Information for Bidders” section of the construction documents:

Notice of Approval of Payment Request Provision 

This contract allows the owner to approve the contractor’s payment request within ___ days after it is received by the owner.
(3) An owner may make payments later than 7 days after the date that the contractor’s request for payment is approved if:
(a) the construction contract in a clear and conspicuous manner specifically provides for a later payment defined by a specified number of days after approval; and
(b) a notice in substantially the following form, setting forth the specified number of days, appears in clear and conspicuous type in the “Information for Bidders” section of the construction documents:
Notice of Extended Payment Provision This contract allows the owner to make payment within ___ days after approval of the payments.

28-2-2116: Construction Contracts; Void Provisions

(1) A provision, covenant, clause, or understanding that is in, collateral to, or affects a construction contract for a project in this state and that makes the contract subject to the laws of another state or that requires any litigation, arbitration, or other dispute resolution proceeding arising from a dispute pertaining to the contract to be conducted in another state is against the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable.

(2) A provision, covenant, clause, or understanding that is in, collateral to, or affects a construction contract and that states that a party to the contract may not suspend performance under the contract or terminate the contract if another party to the contract fails to make prompt payments under the contract as provided in 28-2-2103 is against the public policy of this state and is void and unenforceable.

28-2-2117: Suspension of Performance; Termination

(1) (a) A contractor may suspend performance under a construction contract for failure by the owner to make timely payment of the amount approved pursuant to 28-2-2103, and the contractor may terminate the construction contract if the payment obligations are not satisfied within 30 days of suspension.
(b) A contractor shall provide written notice to the owner at least 7 calendar days before the contractor’s intended suspension of performance or contract termination unless a shorter notice period is prescribed in the construction contract.
(c) A contractor may not be considered in breach of a construction contract for suspending performance or terminating a construction contract pursuant to this subsection (1).
(d) A construction contract may not extend the time period for a contractor to suspend performance or terminate a construction contract under this subsection (1).

(2) (a) A subcontractor may suspend performance under a construction contract if the owner fails to make timely payment of amounts approved pursuant to 28-2-2103 for the subcontractor’s work and the contractor fails to pay the subcontractor for the approved work. The subcontractor may terminate the construction contract if the payment obligations are not satisfied within 30 days of suspension.
(b) A subcontractor shall provide written notice to the contractor and the owner at least 7 calendar days before the subcontractor’s intended suspension of performance or contract termination unless a shorter notice period is prescribed in the construction contract.
(c) A subcontractor may not be considered in breach of a construction contract for suspending performance or terminating a construction contract pursuant to this subsection (2).
(d) A construction contract may not extend the time period for a subcontractor to suspend performance or terminate a construction contract under this subsection (2).

(3) (a) A subcontractor may suspend performance under a construction contract if the owner makes timely payment of amounts approved pursuant to 28-2-2103 for the subcontractor’s work but the contractor fails to pay the subcontractor for the approved work. The subcontractor may terminate the construction contract if the payment obligations are not satisfied within 30 days of suspension.
(b) A subcontractor may not be considered in breach of a construction contract for suspending performance or terminating a construction contract pursuant to this subsection (3).
(c) A construction contract may not extend the time period for a subcontractor to suspend performance or terminate a construction contract under this subsection (3).

(4) (a) A subcontractor may suspend performance under a construction contract if the owner declines to approve portions of the contractor’s payment request pursuant to 28-2-2103 for the subcontractor’s work and the reasons for the owner’s refusal to approve are not the fault of or directly related to the subcontractor’s work. The subcontractor may terminate the construction contract if the payment obligations are not satisfied within 30 days of suspension.
(b) A subcontractor may not be considered in breach of a construction contract for suspending performance or terminating a construction contract pursuant to this subsection (4).
(c) A construction contract may not extend the time period for a subcontractor to suspend performance or terminate a construction contract under this subsection (4).

(5) A subcontractor shall provide written notice to the contractor and the owner at least 7 calendar days before the subcontractor’s intended suspension of performance or contract termination unless a shorter notice period is prescribed in the construction contract between the contractor and subcontractor.

(6) A contractor or subcontractor that suspends performance as provided in this section is not required to furnish further labor, materials, or services until the contractor or subcontractor is paid the amount that was approved, together with any costs incurred for mobilization and project rescheduling resulting from the shutdown or restartup of a project.

(7) Written notice required under this section must be considered to have been provided if either of the following occurs:
(a) the written notice is delivered in person to the individual or a member of the entity or to an officer of the corporation for which it was intended; or
(b) the written notice is delivered at or sent by any means that provides written, third-party verification of delivery to the last-known business address of the party receiving notice.

Prompt Payment Statute on Public Projects

17-8-241: Definitions Relating to Interest Assessment

As used in 17-8-242 through 17-8-244, the following definitions apply:

(1) “Services” means the furnishing of labor, time, or effort, including construction services, purchased or contracted for by the state or any agency thereof.

(2) “Supplies” means all personal property purchased, leased, or contracted for by the state or any agency thereof, including leases of equipment. The term also includes leases of buildings or other real property by the state or any agency thereof.

17-8-242: Interest Assessed on Amounts Due

(1) Except as provided in 17-8-244, a state agency shall pay simple interest at the rate of 0.05% each day on amounts due for supplies and services received if the agency fails to make timely payment.

(2) For purposes of this section, payment is timely if a warrant is mailed or is otherwise made available to the payee when due and for the amount specified in the applicable contract or agreement. If no date is specified in the applicable contract or agreement, payment is timely if paid within 30 days after receipt of a properly completed invoice, addressed to the payer agency, or receipt of the supplies or services by the agency, whichever is later.

17-8-243: Source for Payment of Interest

Any interest owing under 17-8-242 must be paid from funds designated for administrative costs of the agency receiving the supplies and services unless the delay was caused by a different agency, and then the interest must be paid from the administrative costs of that agency.

17-8-244: Exemptions

Section 17-8-242 does not apply to the following:

(1) interagency or intergovernmental transactions;

(2) claims subject to a good faith dispute brought before a government agency or before a court. Interest in a proceeding subject to this subsection is governed by 18-1-404.

(3) delinquencies because of natural disasters, disruptions in postal or delivery service, work stoppage because of labor disputes, power failures, or any other cause resulting from circumstances clearly beyond the control of the payer agency;

(4) wages due and payable to state employees or payments from any state retirement system created pursuant to Title 19; or

(5) claims submitted to the state or to its fiscal intermediary by providers of supplies or services under the Montana medicaid or workers’ compensation program if reasonable cause for nonpayment exists.