Tenants in St. Louis, just like their counterparts elsewhere, have a responsibility to abide by the terms of the lease agreement. For instance, pay rent on time, keep the premises clean and sanitary, and report maintenance issues to the landlord.
Sadly, some tenants may choose not to keep their end of the bargain. They may, for example, stop making their rent payments, causing excessive property damage, or simply violate the terms of the agreement.
When that happens, you, the landlord, may be left with no other option but to evict them. Tenant eviction requires strict adherence to the Missouri eviction laws. The following is a basic overview of the state’s eviction process.
You must have a legal reason to evict your St. Louis tenant. You can not evict them based on a protected characteristic, for instance. Examples of valid reasons to evict someone would be late payment of rent, causing disturbance to neighbors, causing excessive property damage, and failing to move after the lease ends.
Once you have any of the aforementioned reasons, you may be able to initiate eviction proceedings against them.
Once you have a legal cause, the next step to evicting a tenant is to file the correct legal notice. An eviction notice is a legal document that tells the tenant what violation they have committed and what they must do. There are different kinds of eviction notices, each serving a specific purpose.
Below are the most common lease violations and the appropriate notice types a landlord must serve:
Nonpayment of Rent
You’re allowed to evict a tenant who doesn’t pay rent. In Missouri, rent becomes late the day after it is due. If you offer any grace periods, you must address them in the lease agreement.
Also, you must wait for at least one month before filing an eviction action with the court. And unlike many other states, you aren’t required to provide your tenant with a written notice for nonpayment of rent. Once the one month has elapsed, you can just move to court and file a complaint.
Violation of the Lease Agreement
You may be able to evict a tenant for failing to uphold their lease responsibilities. In Missouri, these are called unlawful detainer cases. You must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. You aren’t, however, required to allow tenants to correct the violations.
Common lease violations that fall under this category include keeping an unauthorized pet, exceeding the rental limit, and causing excessive property damage.
If the tenant doesn’t move out after 10 days, you can move to court and file an unlawful detainer complaint.
Failure to Move Out After the Lease Ends
Tenants who refuse to move out after their lease has expired are referred to as “holdover” tenants. Unlike in some other states, you must serve them with a notice before evicting them.
Just like evictions involving lease violations, this type of eviction is referred to as an unlawful detainer case. For tenancies that are less than one year, you must serve the tenant with a 30-days notice. For yearly leases, you must serve the tenant with a 60-days notice.
If the tenant hasn’t moved after the notice has expired, you may proceed with the eviction process.
Committing an Illegal Act
If your St. Louis tenant has performed some form of illegal activity on the premises, you must serve them with a 10 days’ notice. Examples of such illegal activity include illegal gaming and illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances.
However, you may not need to provide a notice for certain illegal activities. Including, drug-related criminal activity, physical injury to others, and excessive property damage (exceeding 12 months’ rent).
Summons & Complaint
If you have served the tenant with notice and they haven’t moved out after to notice period has expired, you can move to court and file a complaint. Either the sheriff or a specially appointed process server can serve the summons and complaint on the tenant. This must be done at least 4 days before the eviction hearing.
Hearing & Judgment
In Missouri, the type of eviction a landlord is carrying out determines the date of the court hearing. For nonpayment of rent and unlawful detainer cases, the hearing is usually held within 21 days after the issuance of the summons.
For evictions involving illegal activity, the hearing is usually held within a period of 15 days after issuance of the summons.
No matter the eviction reason, a no-show from the tenant may result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord. However, if the tenant does show up, then a hearing will be held and the court will make its ruling.
In their defense, the tenant may allege any of the following:
- You tried to evict them using “self-help” eviction methods. Examples of “self-help” eviction methods include locking out the tenant and removing their belongings from their rental premises.
- The eviction is based on discriminatory reasons. The Missouri Fair Housing rules make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants based on protected classes. The protected classes include familial status, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, and race.
- Improper eviction process. When evicting your St. Louis tenant, you must ensure that you follow the right eviction proceedings. If you don’t, the eviction may be invalidated by the court.
- The property is no longer habitable. Landlords in Missouri have a responsibility to provide a habitable rental property that adheres to the state’s health, safety, and building codes.
Writ of Restitution
This is a legal document that serves as the final notice for a tenant to vacate their premises. In Missouri, you must request it within 10 days after a successful judgment in your favor.
Bottom Line: Missouri Eviction Laws
If you would like help managing your properties and keeping track of these laws, contact the trusted team at Keyrenter St. Charles Property Management to learn more about their services!
Disclaimer: This article isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. If you have questions or need further help, kindly get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.