LandlordStation.com understands that landlord-tenant disputes are a common occurrence, but we believe that many disputes could be avoided with a better understanding of Missouri landlord tenant law. As the landlord, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your tenant to be as informed as possible about these laws. Educate yourself by reading this convenient, informational summary. However, remember that with landlord tenant law, Missouri licensed attorneys are the only experts qualified to provide legal advice. This is not legal advice; this is merely intended for general information.
The basics of Missouri landlord tenant law cover the general obligations of both parties in a lease agreement. As landlord, it is very beneficial for you to know both Missouri tenant rights and responsibilities as well as your own. This allows you to proactively work against any conflict and gives you the opportunity to properly educate your tenants so that they may do the same.
Under landlord tenant law, Missouri requires tenants to pay rent on time, use the property with reasonable care, avoid damage to the property, properly dispose of garbage, and refrain from subleasing the rental premises without the landlord's written permission. You, the landlord, are required to:
• Make sure the rental property is habitable before move-in
• Make and pay for any repairs that are the result of usual wear-and-tear on the property
• Avoid turning off the tenant's utilities (water, electricity, gas) for any reason that is not backed by a court order
• Give tenants written notice of a change in landlord and/or owner
• Refrain from unlawful discrimination
More specific provisions of MO landlord tenant laws intended to further protect landlords and tenants in special circumstances were enacted in 1997. Many of the Missouri tenant rights given under these laws address issues involving unresponsive landlords. This includes the right to deduct half a month's rent (up to $300) once a year for repair of code violations after the landlord has been given a 14-day notice. The following lists some of what the 1997 provisions provide for the landlord:
• Authorization of county courts to quickly remove, without written notice, any tenants involved in any violent or drug-related activity – even without arrest
• Ability of landlord to remove personal items abandoned by the tenant once applicable written notice is given
• Right of the landlord to double the rent when the rental premises is sublet or taken over without his or her permission
• An occupancy limit of two persons per bedroom, excluding children born during the period of the rental agreement
One of the best ways to avoid conflict and ensure all involved parties understand each other's obligations under the law is to have a written lease agreement. A written lease agreement sets all the rental terms – such as the rent amount, rental period length, and utility liability – and is legally-binding once signed by both parties. If ever one has a question about his or her responsibilities, he or she can simply consult the lease. If the landlord or tenant doesn't fulfill the lease, he or she may be sued. Please note that a tenant is not excused from honoring a written lease just because the tenant does not understand the agreement or did not read it.
This is in contrast to an oral lease agreement in Missouri, which is harder to prove. Oral agreements are only binding for one month. Any lease that is for one or more years must be written. Since an oral agreement under Missouri landlord tenant law can only be month-to-month, only a one month notice must be given for any change that requires a notice. Despite the agreement being oral, written notice must be given by landlord, or tenant, if the tenancy is to be terminated. Even for short rental periods which qualify for an oral lease, we strongly recommend a written lease – even if that lease is a handwritten, signed piece of paper.
Even with a detailed written lease agreement to fall back on, the most important thing you can do as a Missouri landlord is to have a solid understanding of MO landlord tenant laws. Landlord Station hopes that our quick summary of the basics has helped you on your way, and that you will continue to educate yourself about rental issues. Remember, the above is in no way meant to be legal advice. It is for general reference purposes only. If you need specific legal advice about your Missouri rental agreement circumstances, contact a qualified and experienced attorney.
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