An unfortunate part of being a landlord is tenant eviction. If irrevocable issues emerge with your Missouri tenants, such as failure to pay rent or possession of illegal substances on your property, you'll want to be fully aware of what your rights are with regards to arranging for their removal and following the eviction process outlined in Missouri tenant laws.
The reasons to evict a tenant can be many and varied. It can be because of excessive property damage, failure to pay rent and possession of illegal substances or other illegal activities in your rental unit or property.
When carrying out an eviction, a landlord must follow the proper eviction process or procedure. A landlord cannot—for instance—carry out a ‘self-help’ eviction, which entails actions like locking the tenant out of the property, or shutting off previously available utilities.
In Missouri, just like elsewhere in the U.S., only a court can sanction the removal of a tenant from their home, and only for certain reasons. The Missouri eviction process is outlined in Missouri rental laws, and it is your responsibility as a Missouri landlord to ensure that you adhere to it.
The difficulty of carrying out an eviction is one of the reasons why property owners often enlist the services of a qualitified property management company. Let's take a look at the steps involved in a successful Missouri eviction.
An Overview of Eviction Laws in Missouri
Step #1: Eviction Notice
A successful eviction process in Missouri begins with serving the tenant with an eviction notice, in accordance with Missouri's landlord tenant laws. In order to evict a tenant, the notice must state, among other things, the violation committed and what the tenant must do. It must also be relevant to the violation committed, and must appear in writing.
The following are the common violations and the different notice types available for Missouri landlords.
Nonpayment of Rent: Of course, a landlord has a right to evict a tenant who fails to pay rent on time. As per statewide law, rent becomes late the day after it falls due. The option of allowing a grace period is up to each landlord and should be addressed in the lease agreement for the rental unit.
A landlord must not begin the eviction proceedings unless the tenant is at least one month late with their payment. For nonpayment of rent, a notice isn’t required.
Violation of Lease Terms: Once a tenant signs the lease agreement for a particular rental unit, they must abide by all terms for the entire lease term. If they don’t abide by the lease terms, a landlord can begin the eviction proceedings by serving them a 10-Day Notice to Quit.
The notice gives the tenant 10 days to either move out on their own or be evicted. Typical lease violations that fall under this category include excessive property damage, keeping an unauthorized pet, and having too many people living in the unit. These are all unlawful detainer cases.
Holdover Tenant: A holdover tenant is one who refuses to leave a rental unit after their lease term has ended. The notice period depends on the terms of the lease agreement.
For tenancies that are less than one year per the lease, you must serve the tenant with a 30 Day Quit Notice. For year-long tenancies, you must serve the tenant with a 60 Day Quit Notice.
Both of these notices give the tenant no other option than to leave after the notice period has ended. If the tenant doesn’t move after the expiry of the notice period, you can proceed with the Missouri eviction process against the tenant.
Illegal Activity: If your tenant has committed an illegal activity at their rented premises, then you must serve them a 10 Day Quit Notice. Examples of illegal activities include prostitution, illegal gaming, and illegal sale, possession, or distribution of controlled substances.
No notice is required for certain violations. Examples of these include drug-related criminal activities, such as possession or distribution, and excessive property damage in excess of the value of a year's rent.
Step #2: Summons & Complaint
Once they have served the notice, the landlord must file the eviction complaint in a relevant court. In Clay County, for instance, this will set you back by around $36 for an eviction involving nonpayment of rent.
Serving the summons and complaint must be done by a process server, usually the sheriff. This must be carried out at least four days prior to the court hearing.
When serving the tenant, the process server can choose to:
- Give the copy to the tenant in person.
- Leave a copy with a competent member of the family. The family member must be at least 15 years old.
- Mail the copy to the tenant’s last known address.
- Post a copy in a conspicuous place at their rented premises.
Step #3: Court & Judgment
In the state of Missouri, the type of eviction determines the hearing date. For evictions involving failure to pay rent and unlawful detainer cases, the court hearing must be held 21 days after the court issues the sermons.
For illegal activity, such as possession of illegal substances or illegal gaming, the eviction hearing must be held 15 days after the summons are issued.
The tenant doesn’t have to show up for the eviction process. In this case, the court will probably rule in the landlord's favor through a default judgment.
On the other hand, if your tenants choose to fight the eviction, the following are some of the defenses they may provide:
You tried to evict the tenant via “self-help” means: As a Missouri landlord, the only way to evict a tenant is via a judicial process. You cannot attempt to do it any other way. For example, you can't shut off utilities, change locks, or even remove the tenant’s personal belongings.
You failed to follow the proper eviction procedure: A lanlord must carefully follow the rules of the eviction process in Missouri, set forth in the statewide law. If you fail to do so, you may risk invalidating the eviction.
You failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards: As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure your rental unit or property meets all health, building, and safety codes. If you fail to do so, the tenant can opt to exercise their right to “deduct and repair.”
This consists of carrying out the repairs themselves and deducting the costs from the rent.
In such a case, you cannot then try to evict the tenant citing nonpayment of rent.
The eviction is discriminatory: The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on a protected class. The protected classes include gender, religion, race, familial status, national origin, and disability. A landlord must ensure that their tenant screening process, lease agreements, and even actions in the case of an eviction all adhere to Fair Housing laws.
Step #4: Writ of Restitution
A writ of restitution is a legal document that acts as a final notice for the tenant to leave the premises. A landlord must request it within 10 days after the judgment is made. Next, the landlord must deliver it to a law enforcement officer.
Disclaimer: This article isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change frequently and this blog may not be up-to-date at the time of your reading.
For further help, please get in touch with the expert team at Pro X Property Management. For more than a decade, we've been providing the best property management services available in Missouri, Southeast Kansas, and more! Contact us today to find out how we can help manage your Missouri or Kansas rental unit or property!