Steps of the eviction process in Missouri:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court serves tenant with summons & complaint.
- Writ of possession is posted.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
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.
Grounds for an Eviction in Missouri
In Missouri, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
|Nonpayment of Rent||Not Required||Maybe|
|End of / No Lease||1 Month||No|
|Lease Violation||10 Days||Maybe|
|Illegal Activity||10 Days||No|
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. The landlord must first make a demand for rent and if rent remains unpaid, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. Prior notice is not required to begin the eviction process.
Although Missouri law does not state a specific timeframe of how long a landlord must wait before filing an eviction action with the court, it is common practice to wait at least 3 days before starting the eviction process.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Missouri the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.
After the landlord makes a demand for rent and if rent remains unpaid, the landlord can begin the eviction process.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (1 month for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease Terms or Responsibilities
In Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities. To do so, the landlord must give 10 days’ notice to move out. The tenant does not have the opportunity to correct the issue and must vacate.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Using heating, electrical and plumbing fixtures in a reasonable manner.
- Disposing of all rubbish and garbage in a clean and safe manner.
- Not deliberately destroying, removing, or damaging any part of the rental unit.
- Not subletting or renting to any person without the landlord’s knowledge.
Examples of lease violations include:
- Parking in an unauthorized area.
- Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.
- Subletting to an occupant without the landlord’s consent.
Eviction for Illegal Activity
In Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant for committing an illegal activity. To do so, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 10 days’ notice for minor illegal activity and for major illegal activity, no notice is required. Regardless, tenants do not have the option to fix the issue to avoid eviction and must move out.
Minor Illegal Activity
If a tenant commits a minor illegal activity, the landlord must give a 10 days’ notice to vacate the premises without the chance to fix the issue.
Examples of minor illegal activity include:
- Illegal gaming.
- Illegal possession, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance.
Major Illegal Activity
If the tenant commits a major illegal activity, no prior notice is required and the landlord may immediately proceed with an eviction action. The tenant does not have the opportunity to correct the issue and must move out.
Examples of major illegal activity:
- Physical injury to other tenants or landlord.
- Property damage in an amount exceeding 12 months’ rent.
- Drug-related criminal activity.
- The property was used to promote, aid or assist in drug-related criminal activity.
- The tenant, the tenant’s household member, or guest engaged in drug-related criminal activity.
- The tenant invited a person to enter the rental unit who was previously removed or banned from the rental property.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period (if any), the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Illegal Evictions in Missouri
In Missouri, certain actions by landlords can make an eviction illegal.
In Missouri, self-help evictions are illegal. Depending on the actual damages sustained, the court will award the tenant accordingly. No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
While in most states it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right, there are no anti-retaliation statutes in Missouri. Missouri has no statutes prohibiting landlord retaliation when a tenant exercises a legal right (i.e., joining a tenant’s union or making a complaint to a governmental official regarding a habitability issue).
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Missouri by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:
- Giving the notice to the tenant in person; and
- Leaving a copy of the notice with a family member over the age of 15.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
Demand for Rent
In Missouri, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. The landlord must first make a written Demand for Rent, which notifies the tenant that rent is past due and the tenancy will end if rent remains unpaid. Missouri law does not specify how much time a landlord must give to a tenant before filing an eviction lawsuit; however, it is common practice to allow the tenant at least 3 days to pay rent.
If rent remains unpaid, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court. Prior notice to vacate is not required to begin the eviction process.
1 Month Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Missouri, the landlord must serve them a 1 Month Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 1 month to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Amount|
10-Day Notice to Quit
In Missouri if a tenant commits an illegal activity or a violates the terms of their lease, the landlord can serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 10 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.
Note, illegal activity that harms others or substantially damages the rental property does not require a notice and the landlord may immediately proceed with an eviction lawsuit.
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
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:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy with a family member over the age of 15;
- Posting a copy in a conspicuous place at the rental unit;
- 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 Holds Hearing & Issues 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 5 days, depending on the eviction type and how quickly the court orders the eviction to take place.
Missouri Eviction Process Timeline
In Missouri, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 3 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Missouri eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||5-60 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing/Serving Summons||4 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||15-21 Business Days|
|Court Issuing Writ of Possession||10 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||2 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||1-5 Business Days|
Flowchart of Missouri Eviction Process
- 1 MO Rev Stat §535.020 (2020)
- 2 MO Rev Stat §535.120 (2020)
- 3 MO Rev Stat §441.060 (2020)
- 4 MO Rev Stat §441.040 (2020)
- 5 MO Rev Stat §441.050 (2020)
- 6 MO Rev Stat §441.020 (2020)
- 7 MO Rev Stat §441.770 (2020)
- 8 MO Rev Stat §441.740 (2020)
- 9 MO Rev Stat §441.740 (2020)
- 10 MO Rev Stat § 441.233 (2021)
- 11 MO Rev Stat §506.120 (2020)
- 12 MO Rev Stat §535.030 (2020)
- 13 MO Rev Stat §506.150 (2020)
- 14 MO Rev Stat §535.030 (2020)
- 15 MO Rev Stat §534.070 (2020)
- 16 MO Rev Stat §441.720 (2020)
- 17 MO Rev Stat §535.030 (2020)
- 18 MO Rev Stat §534.350 (2020)
- 19 MO Rev Stat §534.330 (2020)
- 20 MO Rev Stat §534.355 (2020)
- 21 MO Rev Stat §441.770 (2020)