What You Need To Know About Eviction in Missouri

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Landlords cannot evict tenants in Missouri without probable cause, appropriate notice, and a court order. State law outlines the procedure that landlords must follow depending on the reason for eviction.
The most common cause of eviction is the failure to pay rent. As rent prices increase across the country, making rental payments on time is becoming harder and harder. 
With laws varying from state to state, it can be difficult to know your rights as a tenant and the correct legal procedure that you have to follow as a landlord.
The team behind insurance Jerry, the super app for car and renters insurance, has put together this essential guide to help you understand the law, process, and rights around evictions in Missouri.
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Missouri eviction 101: the four ways you can be evicted

A landlord cannot force a tenant out of their home without a court order. Before filing an eviction lawsuit, landlords must provide written notice citing the reason for eviction. The length and terms of the notice will vary depending on the cause.
For a landlord to evict a tenant, they must have probable cause. The four situations outlined by Missouri law are:
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Violation of lease agreement
  • Conducting illegal activity
  • Termination without cause

Non-payment of rent

Rent is considered late the day after it is due in Missouri. Landlords must provide a written Notice to Quit requesting the due rent. If it is not paid, then they can proceed with a “rent and possession” lawsuit. 
Missouri law does not have any minimum notice requirements, but it is recommended that landlords give at least 3-5 days before proceeding with the eviction.

Violation of lease agreement

Each lease will have different terms and agreements that the tenant must follow. If a tenant violates the terms of their lease, then the landlord can issue a 10-day Notice to Quit, requiring the tenant to vacate the property within 10 days or else be served with an eviction lawsuit.
Unlike many other states, Missouri does not require that landlords allow tenants to resolve the issue before continuing with the eviction process.
Some examples of lease violations include:
  • Damaging the rental unit
  • Smoking in a non-smoking area
  • Keeping a pet in a pet-free unit

Conducting illegal activities

If a tenant is engaging in illegal activity in the rental unit, then the landlord can issue a 10-day Notice to Quit, much the same as for lease violations. Landlords are not required to allow tenants to resolve the issue.
Some examples of illegal activities include:
  • Gambling on the premises
  • Creating, distributing, or consuming controlled substances
  • Prostitution 
Missouri law stipulates that if tenants engage in certain harmful activities, landlords can file an eviction lawsuit without providing any notice to the tenant. These include:
  • Violence against the landlord or other tenants
  • Property damage worth more than 12-months rent
  • Drug-related criminal activity
In these cases, if the tenant is not the one responsible for the illegal activity (say, a guest is responsible) then the tenant is entitled to at least a five-day Notice to Quit.

Termination without cause

If a landlord does not have a reason for evicting a tenant but wishes to terminate the lease, they must wait until the end of the lease term and provide the appropriate amount of notice.
  • Fixed-term leases: No notice is required. The landlord can simply not renew the lease but landlords should inform the tenant of this intention without enough time for them to find a new home
  • Year-to-year leases: 60-days notice before the end of the year is required for leases that specify yearly renewal of the agreement
  • Month-to-month: 30-days notice before the next rent due date is required. So if a landlord wants to terminate a lease by May 1, they must inform the tenant before April 1
If the tenant fails to move out after the date notified by the landlord, then the landlord can proceed with an eviction lawsuit.
Key Takeaway Landlords cannot evict a tenant without a court order. The procedure for eviction will vary depending on the reason for eviction.

A timeline of eviction in Missouri

If you are facing possible eviction in Missouri, the process can take quite a long time, often well over a month. Here is a brief breakdown of what you can expect from the eviction process:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Written notice from landlord1-30 daysLandlord sends a written Notice to Quit, citing the infraction
Summons and ComplaintAt least four daysAfter filing a lawsuit, tenants must be served the court summons at least four days before the hearing
HearingWithin 21 days after the summons is issuedThe court will rule on the case based on the landlord’s complaint and tenant’s response
Writ of possession issued10 daysIf the court rules in favor of the landlord, a Writ of Possession will be issued no less than 10 days after the decision
Return of possession1-5 daysDepending on the reason for eviction, the court will order a timeframe by which the tenant must vacate the property
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How to resist eviction in Missouri

The most straightforward way to resist an eviction is to pay the rent due upon request (if possible) or to try and find a solution to any violations you’ve committed. If this is not possible, then do your research and consult legal counsel to improve your chances of successfully defending yourself in court.
There are a few circumstances where you might be getting unjustly evicted. If this is the case, you can respond to your landlord's complaint in court or even sue your landlord. These cases include:
  • Landlord makes a procedural mistake: Your landlord must follow the correct legal procedure to evict you. If they change the locks, turn off the utilities, or try to physically force you out without a court order, for example, you might have a case for unlawful eviction.
  • Retaliatory evictions: Landlords cannot try to evict you because you exercised your rights as a tenant.
  • Discrimination: It is illegal for a landlord to evict anyone based on race, sex, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, or familial status. If you believe you are being discriminated against, you may have a case against your landlord.
  • Landlord fails to maintain the property: If, for example, your landlord is trying to evict you for damage to the property, but that damage was caused by their neglecting to repair a leaking pipe, then you may be able to avoid eviction.

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