No statute in Missouri compels landlords to ask for a security deposit from their tenants. Nonetheless, most, if not all, landlords require it, and for good reasons!
Naturally, tenants will become responsible for certain bills once they sign the lease agreement and upon moving out, they must clear any outstanding bills. If they don’t, you can use part of their security deposit money to cover the bills.
A security deposit also helps cover losses in rent payments. Things happen that could result in your tenant becoming unable to make their rent payments. A good example is the loss of a job. To cut your losses, you can use part or all of their security deposit to offset the missed rent payment.
The security deposit may also help cover losses arising from excessive property damage caused by the tenant.
Missouri security deposit laws are contained in the statewide landlord-tenant law. As a landlord, you must abide by it when it comes to handling your tenant’s security deposit.
The following are answers to common questions regarding security deposit laws in Missouri.
1. How much can landlords charge their tenants as a security deposit in Missouri?
Missouri landlords must charge their tenants no more than 2X the monthly rent as a security deposit. So, if you’re charging a monthly rent of $1,500, the maximum you can charge as a deposit would be $3,000.
2. Can landlords in Missouri charge their tenants non-refundable deposits?
In Missouri, it’s illegal for landlords to charge non-refundable security deposits. The state recognizes all deposits received from tenants to be refundable when the lease ends.
Of course, you may be able to withhold part or all of the tenant’s deposit in certain situations. For example, when the tenant causes excessive property damage or moves out without clearing their utility bills.
3. Can landlords make deductions to their tenants’ deposits?
Yes, under Missouri security deposit laws, you may be able to make appropriate deductions from a tenant’s deposit under certain circumstances. You cannot make a deduction based on the sole reason of a tenant being in a protected class, for example. The following are the common circumstances:
- To cover losses in rent payments if the tenant stops paying rent or abandons the unit.
- To cover excessive cleaning costs after a tenant moves out. Most leases require tenants to return the unit in the same condition they found it, minus normal wear and tear.
- To cover excessive property damage. This includes broken appliances, big stains, or multiple holes in the walls.
- To cover unpaid utilities.
4. How must Missouri landlords store their tenants’ deposits?
No law in Missouri requires landlords to store their tenant’s deposits in any particular manner. You are free to choose how to store it, and whether that account will earn interest or not.
5. Do you have to notify your tenant upon receiving their security deposit?
In some states, landlords are required to notify their tenants once they receive their security deposit. This isn’t necessary for the state of Missouri.
That notwithstanding, most landlords still do notify their tenants upon receiving their deposit. In the notice, you should include the following information:
- The amount of deposit you received.
- The date you received it.
- Where you’re storing the deposit.
- The circumstances under which you can use it.
6. Are tenants in Missouri entitled to a walk-through inspection?
Missouri tenants are entitled to a walk-through inspection once they leave their rented premises. You must notify the tenant in writing about the date and time of the inspection. You should send the notice to the tenant’s last known address or deliver it in person.
You must also conduct the inspection within a reasonable time according to state laws.
7. When must you return a tenant’s security deposit in Missouri?
Once a tenant vacates their rental premises, you have exactly one month (30 days) to return their security deposit. The refund may be partial or full depending on the condition in which they left the unit.
If you’ve made any deductions, then you must include a written itemized list of the deductions to the deposit. You must also include the remaining portion of the deposit therein. You must send these to the tenant’s last known address within the 30-day window.
8. What happens if a landlord wrongfully withholds part of the tenant’s security deposit?
Wrongfully withholding part or all of a tenant’s security deposit can attract significant financial and legal repercussions. Among other things, you may be liable for paying the tenant up to 2X the amount of the wrongfully withheld deposit.
9. Can a tenant use the deposit as last month’s rent in Missouri?
A Missouri tenant cannot use the security deposit as last month’s rent. The purpose of a security deposit is to safeguard the landlord against potential financial losses that can arise from renting out the property.
10. What happens when the property changes hands in the state of Missouri?
If you sell your Missouri property, you have two options in regards to the tenant’s deposit. One of the options is to return the deposit to the tenant, minus any appropriate deductions.
The other option you have is to transfer the tenants’ whole security deposits to the incoming landlord. It’ll then be the responsibility of the new landlord to notify the tenants in writing about the change in property ownership.
There are many details that landlords must keep track of. One of the most important things being security deposit laws. Other rentals laws that landlords must be privy to include eviction laws and landlord-tenants laws.
If you find it difficult to stay up-to-date on all these details, consider hiring the services of a trusted property management company like Keyrenter St. Charles Property Management.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change and this information may not be up to date at the time you read it. For further help, please consider seeking help from a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.