Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Missouri and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Missouri
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, lease term violations, refusing to move at lease-end, illegal drug activity & gambling on property, assault on another tenant or landlord
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: No notice required; landlord may file Suit for Rent and Possession if tenant fails to pay rent when demand is made
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 30-Day Notice to Quit for month-to-month tenants; no notice required for fixed-term tenants (but landlord must wait for term to end)
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 10-Day Notice to Quit, but landlord may seek expedited eviction
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: Immediately, via expedited eviction
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: 10 days
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Missouri?
An eviction is always an unpredictable process. In the state of Missouri, the eviction process begins with the landlord providing notification to the tenant of his/her intention to seek to remove the tenant from the rental property.
In the state of Missouri, the landlord may sue for Rent and Possession if the tenant has failed to pay rent or he/she may sue for Unlawful Detainer in other cases.
When a tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord must provide him/her time to pay outstanding rent. In other cases, the landlord is generally required to provide a written notice of his/her intention to seek an eviction. The amount of time the landlord must provide the tenant to vacate the rental property will depend upon the reason the eviction is being sought.
Ultimately, the amount of time required to evict a tenant will depend upon the reason the landlord is seeking an eviction and the tenant’s willingness to fight the process.
Reasons for Eviction in Missouri
The state of Missouri has established a variety of reasons that a landlord may legitimately seek to evict a tenant. These reasons include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement
- Refusing to move at the end of a lease
- Illegal drug activity on the property
- Illegal gambling on the premises
- Assault of another tenant or the landlord
The state of Missouri provides two separate paths for a landlord to seek the eviction of a tenant. When a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may seek to evict the tenant by filing a Suit for Rent and Possession. For all other reasons, the landlord must file an Unlawful Detainer Suit. To file an Unlawful Detainer Suit, the landlord must generally provide a Notice to Quit to sever the rental agreement before he/she may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
Before a landlord may proceed with an attempt to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, he/she must first provide the tenant with a demand for payment of past due rent (R.S.MO. 535.020). Unlike most states, the state of Missouri provides no specific details regarding the amount of time a tenant must be provided to pay outstanding rent. If the tenant refuses to pay outstanding rent when the demand is made, the landlord may proceed by filing a Suit for Rent and Possession with the court in the county where the property is located.
When the claim is filed, the clerk of court, will issue a summons to the tenant. This summons will provide the hearing date and time. This summons must be served a minimum of four days before the court date. The court date may not be more than 21 business days from the filing of the complaint unless the landlord agrees to an extended court date.
This summons will be served by personal delivery and may also be posted on the property is the landlord so requests. If the summons is posted, a copy must also be mailed to the tenant.
A default ruling in favor of the landlord may be made if the tenant fails to appear before the court. The clerk of court will provide notice of the court’s default ruling by mailing a notice to the tenant’s last known address.
The tenant has ten days to file a motion to set aside the default judgment or ask for a new trial. If the tenant fails to make such a request within the ten days allowed, the ruling will be considered final and the tenant will be evicted without further notice.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of Missouri, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant (a tenant who is renting without the benefit of a written lease) without cause. However, to do so the landlord must follow the rules established by the state. In the case of an “at will” tenant who is renting month-to-month a 30-Day Notice to Quit must be provided (R.S.MO. 441.060). When the landlord is renting for a fixed-term, no notice is required. However, the landlord is required to wait until the end of the fixed-term before expecting the tenant to vacate the property.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
In certain situations a landlord may provide a tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. In order to issue a 10-Day Notice to Quit, the tenant must have:
- Violated terms of the lease agreement
- Participated in illegal activity
- Caused serious damage to the rental property
- Sublet or leased the rental property
In certain instances, the landlord may seek an expedited eviction from the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
Generally, a landlord must provide a tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit when a tenant has participated in illegal behavior. Such behavior includes:
- Participating in acts of prostitution
- Conducting illegal gambling on the rental property
- Assault on or threats toward other tenants or the landlord
- Possession, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs
There are specific situations in which a landlord may request an expedited eviction from the court. These situations are specifically when:
- The tenant has allowed an individual or individuals that the landlord has previously trespassed on the property
- The tenant has participated in illegal drug activity on the property
- The tenant has done damage to the property in excess to the amount of 12 month’s rent.
If the tenant remains on the rental property beyond the time established in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Unlawful Detainer Suit with the court.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
When a tenant is renting without the benefit of a written lease, he/she is considered an “at-will” tenant. In the state of Missouri, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. However to do so, he/she must wait until the end of the term of the rental arrangement when dealing with a tenant who is renting for a fixed-term, or by providing a written 30-Day Notice to Quit when dealing with a month-to-month tenant (R.S.MO. 441.060).
This 30-Day Notice to Quit must provide a specific date upon which the tenant must vacate the property. If the tenant remains on the property after the specific date, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Unlawful Detainer Suit with the court.
When dealing with an “at-will” fixed term tenant, the landlord is not required to provide notice of his/her intention to seek an eviction so long as he/she has waited until the end of the fixed term. If the tenant remains on the property after the end of the fixed-term, the landlord my proceed with the eviction process by filing an Unlawful Detainer Suit with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Missouri?
In the state of Missouri, it is illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant in retaliation for making a complaint regarding the condition of the rental property. It is also illegal for the landlord to attempt to evict a tenant based on his/her nation of origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability status, or familial status.
When an Unlawful Detainer Complaint is Filed
The clerk of court will issue a summons to the tenant. The summons will be given to an officer of the court for service. The court date will be scheduled within 21 business days of the filing unless the landlord agrees to an extended court date.
The summons may be served in a variety of ways. The summons may be:
- Personally delivered to the tenant
- Left with an individual over the age of 15 who resides at the rental property
- Tacked to the door of the property and mailed to the last known address of the tenant
If the tenant wishes to make counterclaims, he/she must do so in writing. A judge will preside over the eviction hearing and will issue a judgement for possession. If the tenant fails to appear, the judge may issue a default ruling in favor of the landlord.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant may be ordered to pay double the amount of rent for the amount of time he/she remained on the property after the date provided on the notice.
The tenant has 10 days to appeal the court’s decision. The landlord may request a Writ of Execution after 10 days. This writ allows the sheriff’s office to schedule an eviction.