Missouri Landlord Tenant Laws
Missouri is generally considered to be a landlord-friendly state, mostly due to the relative ease of eviction for non-payment as compared to some other states. However, Missouri tenants do have some significant protections under state law (especially as regards security deposits), and both parties in any lease agreement should be fully aware of them.
One important thing to keep in mind is that each city and county has their own ordinances that may supplant state law, and each will have their own paperwork requirements in order to handle things like evictions. Also keep in mind that while all of the information here is up to date and accurate as of this publication, none of this should be taken as legal advice or a replacement for the assistance of a qualified lawyer.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Missouri?
Security Deposit Rules
There are no statutes requiring landlords to charge interest on security deposits, nor are there any rules about non-refundable fees, pet deposits, receipts for deposits, record keeping for deposit withholdings or keeping security deposits in a separate bank account.
Landlords are restricted to charging no more than two months rent for a security deposit, according to Mo. Rev. Stat. 535.300. Landlords are required to return the security deposit within 30 days after the lease ends. They can withhold money from the deposit, but only for certain specific reasons: to cover unpaid rent, to restore the unit to the condition it was given to the tenant in, and to cover actual damages caused by the tenant’s early termination of the lease. The landlord is required by law to attempt to mitigate those damages by re-renting the unit, however, and they must also provide the tenant with an itemized list of charges.
Should the landlord be found to have withheld the security deposit in bad faith, the tenant can recover damages of twice the amount withheld.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
There are no statutes on default due dates for rent payments, prior notice of an increase in rent, a grace period for rent payments, late fees, prepaid rent or early termination fees. If late fees or a grace period are going to be established, however, they must be defined clearly in the lease.
Returned check fees do have limitations under Mo. Rev. Stat. 570.120. Landlords can only charge a fee of $25 plus recovery of any fee their bank may have charged.
In most cases, tenants are not allowed to withhold rent for failure to provide essential utilities. However, under Mo. Rev. Stat. 441.650, a tenant in a multi-unit building that has a master meter can petition the circuit court of the county for the property to be put in receivership once they have been notified of a termination of service for nonpayment.
Tenants are allowed to make repairs and deduct them from the rent, under certain specific guidelines listed in Mo. Rev. Stat. 441.234. The tenant has to have been on the premises for at least six months, must not be behind in the rent, and the issue being repaired must directly impact the habitability of the unit. In addition, the tenant must give the landlord 14 days written notice and may not deduct a total amount that exceeds one month of rent in a 12-month period.
Landlords are required to attempt to mitigate damages if a tenant terminates the lease early, including attempting to re-rent the unit as soon as possible. When the tenant quits the property, the landlord must give them 10 days of written notice if they have left any property behind. The landlord may discard the property if the tenant does not respond within 10 days.
Under 041.0944, members of the military are allowed to terminate their lease early should they receive permanent change of station orders, orders to deploy for more than 90 days, orders to reside in government quarters, or are discharged or separate from the armed forces. They are required to provide a copy of official orders along with 15 days written notice to the landlord. Members need only to pay for the rental period they are currently in, and they are entitled to a full return of their security deposit provided that there is no damage to the dwelling or back rent owed.
Notice and Entry Rules
Under Mo. Rev. Stat. 441.060, tenants must give a month’s notice prior to terminating a month-to-month lease, and 60 days notice prior to terminating a yearly lease that has an open end date. There is no statute governing prior notice for week-to-week rental arrangements.
It is possible for landlords to get immediate eviction in Missouri with a court order. The circumstances under which such an order can be obtained are fairly specific and limited, however. The tenant must knowingly invite a person onto the property that they know to be banned from it, engage in drug-related criminal activity on the premises, or create an emergency situation that would either endanger other tenants or cause significant damage to the property. These terms are covered in more detail in Mo. Rev. Stat. 441.740.
Missouri is also one of the few states that allows immediate notice of eviction for non-payment of rent. In reality, with various county and city regulations in play, it will likely take a landlord anywhere from a week to a month to actually evict the tenant. Termination for a lease violation or for subletting without the landlords permission requires an advance notice of 10 days.
Mo. Rev. Stat. 535.300 addresses move-out inspections. The landlord is required to give the tenant a reasonable amount of notice in writing of the date of the inspection. Tenants have the right to be present at the inspection.
Lockouts and utility shutoffs are never allowed under Missouri law. There are no statutes on notice for forms of entry other than the move-out inspection, for entry during an extended absence or for pesticide use.
Required Disclosures and Notes
Mo. Rev. Stat. 535.185 requires landlords to disclose their name and address to tenants, as well as the name and address of any appointed property managers, prior to the beginning of the lease. There is no statute on providing tenants with a copy of the lease, however.
Landlords are required to keep the premises habitable, make repairs due to ordinary wear and provide written notice to tenants if there is a sale or transfer of the property. Tenants are required to keep the premises clean, use fixtures reasonably and refrain from damaging the property. They must also disclose in writing any knowledge of past methamphetamine production on the property, under Mo. Rev. Stat. 441.236. Tenants are not allowed to sublet the property without the owner’s permission under Missouri law.
Small Claims Court
The small claims court limit in Missouri is $5,000. Evictions are not heard in small claims court in the state. The statute of limitations on written contracts is 10 years, and is five years for oral contracts.