Sometimes a landlord has no choice but to begin the eviction process on one of their tenants.
Missouri offers landlords some specific steps which must be followed in order for this process to begin.
This formal process is required any time a tenant must be removed from a property, even when there is a potentially dangerous situation going on.
Most landlords will initiate the eviction process because of a failure to pay rent.
Any provision within a lease that is not met can also be grounds for the eviction process in Missouri to be initiated.
Evictions may also occur after a fixed term lease has expired without renewal or if a landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month tenant.
No Specific Amount of Time Is Required
When the issue is for the non-payment of rent, there is no specific amount of time that is mentioned in the landlord tenant laws of the state.
As a general rule, however, landlords should give their tenants 5 business days in order to pay any rent that is due.
The amount of the demand may include a late fee as well if the rental agreement allows for these fees to be paid.
Paying the rent, but not the late fee, may be an active defense for a tenant fighting an eviction.
If the rent is not paid after the demand has been issued and an appropriate amount of time has passed, then a landlord may proceed with a rent and possession lawsuit against the tenant.
This allows a landlord to proceed with the eviction process in Missouri and seek a monetary award for the amount due them at the same time.
A court date will be set. If a tenant fails to show up for the hearing, then a default judgment will be issued.
This may result in an order to leave the rental unit, monetary damages being awarded, or both.
The Unlawful Detainer Process
When the issue is different than a failure to pay the rent, landlords must pursue an eviction process that is a little different.
This is known as the unlawful detainer lawsuit. It is used to remove tenants who have not met some component of their lease or have failed to move out after their rental agreement has expired.
This lawsuit against a tenant follows the same process as the rent and possession lawsuit, but with one exception.
Landlords are not allowed to pursue any monetary damages under this eviction process.
The court will only issue a writ of possession if landlords are awarded the judgment and the Sheriff’s office or other designated official are the only people who can enforce the court order.
Tenants are given 10 days to leave after a judgment has been issued.
Tenants Have the Right to Appeal
Tenants may lose their case, but that doesn’t mean it is the end of the story for a landlord.
Tenants can appeal a judgment against them within 10 days of that judgment occurring.
While the appeal is pending, however, a tenant must post a bond with the court that is equal to any monetary judgment that has been made against them. If the tenant wins the appeal, then the money is given back to them.
If not, the court will give the money to the landlord instead.
An appeal must be filed within 10 days if a tenant is still using a rental unit. If no appeal is filed and the tenant is still holding possession of the rental unit after 10 days have passed since the judgment, a landlord can file for a writ of possession.
This allows the Sheriff or designated official to remove the tenant from the property.
What About an Expedited Eviction?
Some landlords may be able to request an expedited eviction process in the state of Missouri.
This is allowed when the eviction is because the tenants or their guests are engaged in drug related activities or has allowed people in the rental unit or on the property that the landlord has not allowed.
If tenants caused damage to a rental unit that is equivalent to 12 months of rent, this process may also be requested.
If a landlord attempts to evict a tenant on their own, then the eviction process doesn’t necessarily stop.
Self-help evictions do open up a landlord to the possibility of being sued by a tenant because Missouri considers such actions to be illegal.
Any damages that result from turning off utilities, switching locks, or removing the front door [or other actions not listed here] are determined by the court.
The eviction process in Missouri is a streamlined process which is designed to help landlords manage their property effectively.
As long as these steps are followed and appropriate legal counsel is available, this difficult task can become a little bit easier.