Eviction is a legal tool that landlords can use to remove tenants from their properties. A landlord may have a number of reasons to evict a tenant, including:
- The tenant habitually pays his rent late;
- The tenant violates one or more terms of his lease agreement; or
- The tenant violates the law.
Comply With Missouri Eviction Laws
Every state has its own landlord/tenant laws, and Missouri is no different. Under Missouri eviction laws, landlords may not use “self-help” eviction strategies to force tenants out of their rented units, including:
- Changing tenants’ locks;
- Turning off the utilities to the unit; or
- Removing the unit’s door.
A landlord who violates evictions laws can be held liable for damages related to these actions.
A landlord also must have good cause to evict a tenant before the tenant’s lease expires. Examples of valid reasons to evict tenants include:
- Non-payment of rent.
- Remaining in the unit after the lease has expired.
- Violation of the lease terms.
- Engaging in illegal activity in the unit such as distributing illegal drugs and engaging in illegal gambling,
Under Missouri eviction laws, a landlord may not evict a tenant without a court order to do so.
Follow the Eviction Process in Missouri
The eviction process in Missouri varies according to the reason why the landlord is evicting his tenant. If the tenant’s rent is overdue by 30 or more days, the landlord must issue her a Notice to Quit, also known as a Demand for Rent. The landlord uses this form to inform the tenant of the outstanding rent she owes, and he gives her a reasonable length of time, typically three to five days, to pay the late rent. If this time frame expires with no payment, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
When the landlord wants to evict his tenant because the tenant has violated his lease, the eviction process in Missouri requires him to first give the tenant an Eviction Notice. This notice states the nature of the violation committed and gives the tenant 10 days to move out of the unit. If the tenant does not leave within 10 days, the landlord may begin the eviction process. In Missouri, landlords are not required to give tenants time to rectify lease violations; instead, the landlord may do this at his discretion.
Read More: How to Cancel an Eviction Process
Facing a Missouri Eviction Lawsuit
When a tenant does not agree to move out according to the landlord’s terms, she can fight the eviction in court. When a landlord faces a Missouri eviction lawsuit, the only way to get the tenant to leave the unit is to win the case. To evict a tenant due to non-payment of rent, the landlord must submit an affidavit showing the overdue rent and the demand for rent to the circuit court. To evict a tenant for a lease violation, the landlord must submit a complaint and summons to the circuit court.
In either case, the court then schedules a hearing for the landlord’s case. During the hearing, the tenant may challenge the landlord’s claim and potentially have the case dismissed. If the court does not rule in favor of the landlord and does not grant an order to evict, the landlord’s only options are to appeal the decision or to wait until the tenant’s lease expires, at which point she may choose simply to not offer a lease renewal.
Have the Tenant Removed
Under Missouri eviction laws, a landlord cannot personally remove a tenant from her property. This must be done by law enforcement. When the court issues an order to evict, known as a Writ of Execution, local law enforcement serves it to the tenant and oversees the tenant’s move-out of the unit.
- The eviction notice must conform to Missouri law. If you make a mistake, you may have to start the process all over again, so check with the court clerk to make sure yours meets all requirements before you serve it.
Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.