The Eviction Process in Missouri: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers

An overview of Missouri eviction rules, forms, and procedures.

When evicting a tenant in Missouri, a landlord must follow specific rules and procedures set forth by law; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures the landlord or property manager must follow when evicting a tenant in Missouri.

Notice for Termination With Cause

For a landlord to evict a tenant before the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has expired, the landlord must have a valid legal cause. The most common cause for eviction is failure to pay rent. However, the landlord can also evict the tenant for violating the lease or rental agreement or using the rental unit for illegal activities. To evict a tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy. This happens when the landlord gives the tenant notice. The type of notice required will depend on the reason for the eviction.

  • Demand for Rent: If the tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, the landlord can give the tenant a demand for rent. This demand must inform the tenant that rent is due and that if the tenant does not pay it, then the landlord will terminate the rental agreement. If the tenant does not pay rent, then the landlord can go to court and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see  Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 535.020  and  535.060).  Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Missouri  has more information.
  • Ten-Day Notice to Vacate: In some cases, the landlord can give the tenant a ten-day notice to vacate. This notice will inform the tenant that the tenant has ten days to move out of the rental unit or the landlord will file an eviction lawsuit with the court. The landlord is not required to give the tenant any time to correct the offending behavior. The landlord can give the tenant a ten-day notice to vacate in the following situations:
    • lease violations
    • illegal activities, such as gambling, prostitution, or possession, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs
    • assigning or subletting the rental unit without consent, or
    • seriously damaging the rental unit or surrounding property.

See  Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 441.020,  441.030, and  441.040.

Notice for Termination Without Cause

A landlord must have cause to evict a tenant early. If the landlord does not have cause, then the landlord must wait until the term of the tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move.

Month-to-Month Rental Agreement

If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy, then the landlord must provide the tenant with a written one-month notice, specifying the date by which the tenant needs to move. If the tenant does not move out by that date, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 441.060).  Missouri Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy  has more information on this subject.

Fixed-Term Lease

If the landlord wants to end a fixed-term tenancy, such as, a lease for one year, but does not have cause, the landlord must wait until the tenancy has expired. The landlord does not need to provide the tenant with written notice to move unless the terms of the lease or rental agreement specifically requires it. At the end of the tenancy, the landlord can expect the tenant to move.

Tenant Eviction Defenses

Even if a landlord has a valid legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant may still choose to fight the eviction. The tenant could also have a valid legal defense, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit. Fighting the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction lawsuit for both the landlord and the tenant and increase the amount of time the tenant has to stay in the rental unit.  Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Missouri  has more information on this topic.

Removal of the Tenant

The only way a tenant can be removed from the rental unit is when a landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the landlord is not the one who actually removes the tenant. Only a law enforcement officer has that authority. Missouri law has made it illegal for the landlord to force the tenant out of the rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord for damages if the landlord tries.  Illegal Eviction Procedures in Missouri  has more information.

After the tenant moves out of the rental unit, the landlord may find that the tenant has left behind personal property. Before the landlord can dispose of the property, the landlord must try to notify the tenant. The landlord must mail a written notice to the tenant’s last known address informing the tenant of the abandoned property and of the landlord’s desire to dispose of it. The tenant will have ten days to respond. If the tenant does not claim the property within ten days, then the landlord can dispose of it (see  Mo. Rev. Stat. § 441.065).  Handling a Tenant’s Abandoned Property in Missouri  has more information on this topic.

Rationale for the Rules

Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Missouri law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.

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