Posted in Blog  
  on Dec 22, 2015

Missouri Renters Rights That Landlords Should Know

Renters in Missouri are given certain rights that help to protect them in this business relationship. Here are some of the rights that landlords should know about so there is less of a risk of litigation because of an unintended violation of those rights.

1. The Issue With Oral Leases.

Missouri specifically states that all oral leases for residential properties are defaulted to a month-to-month arrangement. This kind of lease can be terminated for any legal reason with a written 30 Day Notice. Year-to-year verbal leases are only allowed for crop land and these require a 60 Day Notice of termination before the end of the year.

2. The Waiver Of The Right To Pursue.

Let's say you've got a tenant who is behind in their rent. You've given them a proper eviction notice and have filed a summons with the court to begin the legal process of removing them from the property. This tenant comes to you, offers you 50% of the rent that is due, and says they'll get the rest caught up in 45 days. If a landlord accepts that payment, the court could see this as a waiver of your right to pursue an eviction.

3. The Right To Be Properly Served.

When an official notice must be given to a tenant, it can be a stressful situation. No one likes being told that they're not doing something in the right way. If a tenant is behind on rent, it could be because they lost their job recently or had a massive medical expense. Yet serving a notice through certified mail may not be good enough to proceed with an eviction unless a tenant named in the notice signed a certified mail receipt and this can be presented to the court.

4. The Problem With Trying To Self-Evict Tenants.

Under no circumstances does Missouri allow a landlord to self-evict problematic tenants. It doesn't matter how much damage they are causing or what illegal activity is happening. Only the court can evict a tenant and enforce that order. Do not shut off utilities, change locks, remove doors, or harass tenants to leave. This is illegal. Tenants can sue landlords and recover actual and punitive damages even if there are legal grounds to evict them.

5. The Multiple Rights Regarding a Security Deposit.

The security deposit laws of Missouri are strictly enforced. Landlords are not allowed to collect a deposit that exceeds 2x the monthly rent. Landlords must also notify tenants of a date and time when an inspection will take place to itemize the deductions which will be taken from the deposit. Tenants have the right to be present for this inspection and it must occur at a reasonable time. The full deposit or a deposit remainder with an itemized list of costs based on the inspected list of issues must be given to the tenant within 30 days of them moving out.

6. The Confusion With What Ordinary Wear And Tear Actually Means.

There is no set definition as to what “ordinary” wear and tear happens to be. Of course damage goes beyond normal wear and tear, but what about things like carpet wear, scratches on a deck, or nail holes in a wall? Wear and tear for a family with 4 kids, 3 dogs, and 2 cats is very different from a single-person household. Landlords often try to charge tenants for the full cost of damage replacement as well and this is not always a legal charge. Some items, such as flooring, carpet, or paint, have an expected lifespan. If a carpet is expected to last 10 years and you've had it installed for 15 years, a financial award may be denied by the court.

7. The Issue With a Splitting Household.

If a couple is getting a divorce or roommates are splitting up and only one party is renewing the lease, then the security deposit cannot be rolled over. An inspection must take place and deductions for repairs must be made. Any remainder will then be refunded to all tenants. A landlord can then require a new security deposit be paid so their obligations to the tenant moving out have been fulfilled. All tenants are jointly liable for any damage found during the inspection. These key points that cover some of the Missouri renters rights that landlords should know is just the beginning of the rental process. Both tenants and landlords have responsibilities to each other because this is a business relationship, even if there are personal undertones to the process. Be aware of these points and you'll be able to potentially lower your risks of future litigation.


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