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February 21, 2024

Landlord Eviction Process in Missouri: A Comprehensive Guide

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The eviction process in Missouri is straightforward. A landlord issues a written notice asking the tenant to pay rent or remedy a situation. If the tenant fails to act, they quit the rental unit. Otherwise, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.

According to Missouri law, a landlord can lawfully evict a tenant after obtaining a court order to that effect. Yet, many Missouri landlords have no idea how to file and win an eviction lawsuit. This article explains the common reasons for eviction in Missouri and how a landlord should go about it. Keep reading. Safely navigate the challenges of property ownership by securing effective landlord insurance in Missouri.

Common Grounds for Eviction in Missouri

Missouri law defines how the landlord and tenant should relate to each other. However, the relationship isn’t always positive, especially with increasing eviction lawsuits.

According to the eviction laws in Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, lease violation, etc. The landlord must issue a notice based on the reasons for evicting the tenant. Common reasons for eviction in Missouri include the following:

1. Failure to Pay Rent

The tenant’s ultimate obligation in the lease or rental agreement is paying rent. If the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord will initiate the eviction process by issuing a written notice.

Notice Period

The Missouri eviction process doesn’t specify the notice period when a tenant is late in paying rent. However, the rental agreement could specify how long a tenant should wait to clear overdue rent.

Where there is no grace period in the lease agreement, the landlord could file an eviction notice when the tenant is one day late on the rent.

For a month-to-month lease, the landlord may initiate the eviction process against the tenant for failing to pay rent for at least one month.

What Next?

If the tenant pays rent, the eviction process ends there. Otherwise, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit against the tenant.

2. Lease Violations

A rental agreement is sacrosanct. The landlord and tenant must honor their obligations. In the landlord's case, maintaining the rental unit in good condition is necessary. On the other hand, the tenant must pay rent.

However, the tenant’s obligations do not end with paying rent. They also must observe other provisions of the rental agreement.

Common Lease Violations

The following are the common lease violations that could cause eviction in Missouri:

  • Damaging the rental unit
  • Smoking in spaces where you shouldn’t
  • Hosting too many people in one rental unit
  • Keeping pets in a pet-free rental property

Action by the Landlord

A landlord must always act when a tenant violates part of the lease. In that case, the landlord must issue a 10-day notice to quit.

The eviction notice informs the tenant of the lease violation. It gives the tenant 10 days to correct the situation or quit the rental unit.

What Next?

However, the landlord might give the tenant more time to correct the violation. The landlord must file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant doesn’t remedy the situation.

3. Involvement in Illegal Activity

Besides rent nonpayment and lease violation, getting involved in illegal activity could also earn a tenant an eviction.

Examples of Illegal Activities

According to the prevailing eviction laws, landlords in Missouri may evict tenants for engaging in any of the following illegal activities:

  • Unlawful gaming
  • Prostitution
  • Involvement with controlled substances

Notice Period

The landlord must issue the tenant with a 10-day notice to quit. Thus, the tenant has ten days to move out of the rental unit. If the tenant remains on the rental property after 10 days, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit.

Illegal Activities Requiring No Notice

There are some illegal activities that fall into the category that doesn’t require a landlord to give a prior written notice. They include the following:

  • Assault or violence against other tenants or the landlord
  • A drug-related criminal activity
  • Property damage worth over 12 months of rent

What If the Tenant Doesn’t Directly Commit Illegal Activity?

In some instances, the tenant’s guest could be the one who committed illegal activity like selling drugs, violence, and excessive damage to property. The landlord must issue a 5-day notice to quit.

4. Non-Renewal of an Expired Lease

The landlord may initiate the eviction process if the tenant fails to renew an expired rental agreement. Without a written lease, the tenant is now a holdover tenant. In that case, a holdover tenant is someone who has overstayed their lease and has no plans to renew it.

Missouri landlords must initiate the eviction process against any holdover tenant. It doesn’t matter if the tenant has overstayed for only one day.  The landlord will file an unlawful detainer case against such a tenant.

Notice to Terminate a Lease

The landlord can start the eviction process long before the lease expires. There are different types of notices, depending on the type of tenancy. The following are some of the notice types:

Landlords and property managers in Missouri must provide tenants with proper notice. If the notice period ends without the tenant leaving the premises, the landlord files an eviction lawsuit. However, eviction lawsuits might not always lead to the landlord evicting the tenant.

The Eviction Process in Missouri

The eviction process in Missouri can be long if the tenant doesn’t heed to the prior written notice. The following are the steps a landlord should expect to take to evict a tenant.

1. Issuance of Eviction Notice

The first step in the Missouri eviction process is the issuance of a written notice to the tenant. In the previous section, the focus has been on the reasons and types of notices.

2. Filing a Complaint

If a tenant does not heed the eviction notice, the landlord files an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Thus, a landlord can only file a complaint in the circuit court if the notice period passes without action from the tenant.

When filing an eviction lawsuit, the landlord may take the following steps:

  • Proceed to the local circuit court
  • Fill out all stator forms
  • Pay filing fees

3. Serving the Tenant

At this stage of the eviction process, the landlord serves the tenant with the Summons and Complaint. However, eviction laws don’t allow the landlord to serve court documents.

What Are Summons?

The summons informs the tenant of the court date. Thus, they help the tenant to prepare for the court hearing. It is sent together with supporting documents showing the court date and reasons for the eviction lawsuit.

Who Serves the Tenant?

Only the sheriff and other law enforcement officials may serve the tenant with the papers. The date of service should be at least four days before the eviction hearing.

How to Serve the Tenant

A law enforcement official may serve the tenant in any of four ways, including the following:

Personal Service

Personal service involves delivering the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person. The server must locate the tenant wherever they are.

Substituted Service

The tenant could be unavailable to be served in person. In that case, the server leaves the court papers with an individual at the tenant’s residence. The individual should be 15 years or older.

Posting Service

The server may also place the documents at the entrance of the rental unit. When the tenant returns home, they will view the documents.

Mailing

Alternatively, the server could mail a copy of the document to the tenant via mail. However, it can be difficult to ascertain if the tenant received the documents.

4. Attending the Eviction Hearing

On the court date, the tenant may or may not appear in court. Also, the tenant may or may not respond to the eviction lawsuit.

If the tenant opts out of the eviction action, the landlord wins by default judgment. Thus, the tenant must obey the court order and move out of the rental premises.

Both the landlord and tenant may attend the eviction proceedings. Thus, the landlord must present supporting evidence such as the following:

  • Bank statements
  • Rent receipts
  • Witness statements
  • Rent ledgers
  • Copy of the deed
  • Copy of the rental agreement
  • Photo and video evidence of lease violations

5. Issuance of the Writ of Possession

After winning the case, the landlord should expect the tenant to move out of the rental premises. If the tenant stays on, the landlord must file for a Writ of Possession. It is a special court order requiring the tenant to move out or be evicted forcefully by law enforcement officials.

The Writ of possession is issued within ten days after the court rules in favor of the landlord. Within the ten days, the tenant may appeal the eviction action by requesting for a retrial.

6. Return of Possession of the Property

Law enforcement officials must receive the writ of possession within the next two business days after issuance. The court may give 15 days to move out of the rental unit, except where illegal activity is involved.

In some instances, the tenant may leave behind their personal property. Landlords cannot dispose of the tenant’s personal property without first contacting them. In a written notice, the landlord may give the tenant ten days to claim the personal property.

How Landlord Insurance Could Help

Besides evicting tenants for various reasons, landlords have many other things to deal with. For example, they could lose part of their property due to fire, rain, lightning, and other natural causes.

Some landlords may also face liability lawsuits from tenants and visitors to the rental unit. Since liability claims can be expensive, landlords need an effective way of meeting these costs. That’s where landlord insurance comes in.

Landlord insurance covers the rental unit against losses due to the following:

Fire Damage

If the rental unit is damaged by accidental fire, the landlord gets compensated courtesy of the policy. That includes the cost of repairing or rebuilding the building.

Water Damage

Water damage due to frozen pipes or broken water heaters also falls under the ambit of landlord insurance. It also covers some types of flooding.

Hail, Lightning, and Windstorms

Landlord insurance covers any damage from storms, such as falling tree branches or fires started by lightning. The insurance company pays for all resultant losses.

Riots and Civil Unrest

If a rental unit is damaged due to riots and civil, landlord insurance can help you to cover the costs. But that’s only possible if the policy covers it.

Vandalism

Landlord insurance may also cover damage to rental property due to vandalism. It will pay for repairs and even reconstruction of the premises.

Burglary

Landlord insurance will cover the losses if someone breaks into your rental units and steals personal property. It includes broken doors and windows.

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