Missouri Eviction Process

Last Updated: October 27, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Missouri can take around one to three months, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants request new trial, file an appeal, or ask to set aside the judgment, the process can take longer (read more).

Questions? To chat with a Missouri eviction attorney, Click here

Introduction. Evictions are a court ordered removal of a tenant. A landlord in Missouri must have legal reasoning to evict a tenant from the rental property. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Missouri.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in Missouri can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Written notice is not required if landlords want to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord is not required to give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given.
  4. Illegal Activity – If a tenant or any other occupant of the rental unit is engaged in illegal activity, notice may or may not be required, depending on the type of activity.
NOTES
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, the normal eviction process may not be applicable (read more).

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to Missouri law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease or rental agreement.

Landlords may not file an eviction action with the court unless the tenant is at least one month behind on their rent payment.

Written notice is not required in order for the landlord to pursue an eviction action for nonpayment of rent.

Landlords may proceed directly to Step 2 below without giving tenants prior written notice.

Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

A tenant can be evicted in Missouri if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease or rental agreement. These are called unlawful detainer cases in Missouri.

Missouri landlords are not required to allow tenants to correct a lease violation in these instances, but they must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Quit, giving the tenant 10 days to move out of the rental unit in order to avoid eviction.

Typical lease violations under this category could include things like damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

Note that illegal activity is not included in this category.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of Missouri, if tenants “holdover,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord may be required to give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

These types of eviction cases, along with violation of lease evictions, are called unlawful detainer cases in Missouri.

For all tenancies less than one year, 30 days’ written notice is required.

For year-to-year tenancies, 60 days’ written notice is required.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

Tenants of a rental unit who are involved in illegal activity must be given 10 days’ notice before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action, if the illegal activity falls under one of the following categories:

  • Illegal gaming.
  • Prostitution.
  • Illegal possession, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance.

No notice is required if tenants are involved in the following emergency situations:

  • Physical injury to other tenants or landlord.
  • Property damage in an amount exceeding 12 months’ rent.
  • Drug-related criminal activity.

In cases where someone other than the tenant was involved in drug-related criminal activity and the tenant had no prior knowledge, promotion or assistance in the illegal activity that caused excessive property damage, or physically harmed someone else on the rental property, the tenant must be given five days’ written notice.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period (if any) expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

As the next step in the eviction process, Missouri landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. Filing fees may vary, for example, in Clay County, this costs $36.50 in filing fees for nonpayment of rent of evictions.

The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by the sheriff or other specially appointed process server at least four days prior to the hearing.

The summons and complaint may be served through one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Leaving a copy with a family member over the age of 15;
  3. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place at the rental unit;
  4. Mailing a copy to the tenant’s last known address;

The landlord must make a request to have the summons and complaint posted or mailed, and personal service must also be attempted.

Four days. Regardless of the eviction type, the summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least four days prior to the eviction hearing.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

In Missouri, the type of eviction determines when the court hearing will be held.

For unlawful detainer and nonpayment of rent evictions, the hearing will be held within 21 business days of the date the summons is issued by the court.

For evictions due to illegal activity, the hearing will be held within 15 days of the date the summons is issued by the court, unless the landlord consents (in writing) for a later court date.

Regardless of the reason for eviction, if the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the judicial officer may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will have to move out.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, either through a default judgment or at the eviction hearing, tenants have the right to request a new trial or ask the court to set aside the judgment within 10 days of the date the judgment is issued in favor of the landlord.

A writ of possession will be issued once the court rules in favor of the landlord.

15-21 days, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants ask for a motion to set aside the judgment or for a new trial, this will add at least 10 more days to the process.

Step 4: Writ of Possession Is Issued

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before law enforcement officials return to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.

For all eviction types, the writ of possession may not be issued until 10 days after the judgment in favor of the landlord. This gives the tenant time to ask for a new trial, for the judgment to be set aside, or to file an appeal.

If the tenant has not moved out by the time the writ is issued, they may be forcibly removed from the rental unit by law enforcement officers.

10 days. The writ of possession will not be issued until 10 days after the judgment in favor the landlord.

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

For unlawful detainer evictions, the writ must be delivered to law enforcement officials within two business days of the date the judgment was issued in favor the landlord.

For all evictions other than illegal activity, the court can order that tenants be removed from the rental unit within 15 days of the date that the judgment was issued in the landlord’s favor.

This means that, after the 10 days it would take to issue the writ, tenants may only have three to five days to move out of the rental unit once the writ has been issued by the court, depending on how quickly it’s delivered to law enforcement.

Tenants who are being evicted due to illegal activity will only have 24 hours to move out of the rental unit before law enforcement returns to forcibly remove them.

24 hours to five days, depending on the eviction type and how quickly the court orders the eviction to take place.

Missouri Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Missouri. Therefore, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – Between 5 and 60 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – Four  days prior to the hearing.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 15-21 days, more if tenants ask to set aside the judgment/request a new trial or file an appeal.
  4. Issuance of Writ of Possession – 10 days after the ruling is issued in favor of the landlord.
  5. Return of Possession – 24 hours to 5 days, depending on the eviction type.
Questions? To chat with a Missouri eviction attorney, Click here

Mobile Home Evictions. Tenant’s living on a mobile home lot who have a lease for less than one year may be terminated by the landlord by giving a written 60-Day Notice to the tenant.

Abandoned Property. If a tenant abandons the premises and leaves behind personal property, a landlord may remove or dispose of the property. The rental property is considered as abandoned by the tenant if rent is due and has been unpaid for 30 days and the landlord posts written notice on the premises and mails a copy of the notice to the last known address of the tenant by first-class and certified mail.

Tenant’s Eviction Defenses. A tenant may have a defense to fight the eviction lawsuit. Here are some examples of eviction defenses:

  • The landlord removes a tenant without receiving a court order.
  • The landlord changes locks or shuts off utilities without receiving a court order.
  • The landlord did not follow the rules of the court for a valid eviction suit.
  • The landlord did not maintain the rental property and is not up to housing and building codes.
  • The landlord illegally discriminates against the tenant based on religion, race, gender, family status, disability, etc.

Flowchart of Missouri Eviction Process

For additional questions about the eviction process in Missouri, please refer to the official legislation, Missouri Revised Statutes §441, §534, §535, and §506, for more information.