Rental agreements may be oral or written according to Missouri law (MRS Tit. 29 Ch. 441). Landlords and tenants are given responsibilities and rights, even if these rights are not explicitly identified in the rental agreement. Landlords have certain rights, such as the right to collect rent, the right to reimbursement for costs from property damage and the right to pursue eviction for lease violations.
Renters also have rights, which include the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to report any health and safety violations.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in Missouri
Landlords in Missouri are required to provide a habitable dwelling and make requested repairs in a timely manner. However, Missouri tenants are generally not allowed to take any form of alternative action if requested repairs are not made.
Missouri state law does not include an explicit enumeration of amenities covered under the state’s warranty of habitability. Instead, landlords operate by an “implied warranty of habitability” but this warranty is not codified into law. As such, landlords are required to provide amenities that allow the unit to be fit for human habitation, though these requirements are open to legal interpretation.
Landlords are responsible for all amenities that were provided at the beginning of the lease.
Tenant Responsibilities in Missouri
Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, Missouri tenants must:
- Abide by lease terms
- Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition
- Perform repairs outlined in lease agreement
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in Missouri
Missouri landlords are allowed to pursue eviction for any of the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – Missouri does not require landlords to issue a notice in the case of missing rental payments after any applicable grace period. As such, landlords can pursue immediate eviction if rent is not paid.
- Violation of lease terms – If a lease violation occurs, Missouri landlords may issue a 10-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. If the issue is not remedied in the specified timeframe, landlords can pursue eviction. Some violations are serious enough to warrant immediate eviction.
- Illegal acts – If a landlord has documentation of prostitution, illegal gambling, assault, or possession/sale of drugs occurring on their property they may file a 10-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not vacate the premises, the landlord can file an Unlawful Detainer suit.
At-will tenants are entitled to at least 30 days of written notice before eviction. Missouri law also does not allow landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in Missouri
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 2 months of rent
- Time Limit for Return – 30 days
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a landlord wrongfully withholds a security deposit, they may be required to pay up to 2 times the value of the deposit.
- Allowable Deductions – Missing rental payments and repairs for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Lease Termination in Missouri
Notice requirements. Missouri tenants bound to a periodic lease must give the following amounts or advanced notice if they wish to terminate the lease.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination. Missouri tenants can legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Active military duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
Missouri tenants who break a lease early may still be responsible for making rental payments until the end of the lease term or until the unit is re-rented. Landlords have a legal obligation to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Missouri
- Rent control. Missouri law expressly forbids any kind of rent control policies. Thus, landlords can charge as much as they want for rent.
- Rent increases. By the same token, Missouri landlords can raise rental prices as much as they wish and they are neither required to give advanced notice or justification for rent hikes.
- Rent-related fees. Landlords are not limited in how much they charge for late fees as long as it is included in the lease agreement. Returned check fees are limited to $25.
Housing Discrimination in Missouri
Protected Groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These laws do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. Missouri does not include extra protections for any groups not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations handles housing discrimination complaints in the state. The following practices and behaviors may be considered discriminatory when directed to a member of a protected class:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Falsely denying the availability of housing
- Denying membership to certain services
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations
- Refusing to provide certain types of financial services
- Publishing advertisements that encourage or discourage certain groups from applying
Tenants who feel they are the victim of discrimination may file a complaint online. If the complaint is found to be justified, then the tenant may seek civil litigation against the landlord.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Missouri
Landlord Entry in Missouri
Missouri law does not outline notification procedures for unit entry. As such, landlords are more or less free to justifiably enter without permission, unless entry notification policies are included in the written lease.
Small Claims Court in Missouri
Missouri small claims court will hear rent-related cases amounting to less than $5,000. Small claims court does not hear eviction cases though. The statute of limitations is 10 years for a written lease and 5 years for an oral lease.
Mandatory Disclosures in Missouri
Missouri landlords must make two kinds of mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-based paint. Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations used in the building.
- Authorized Agents. Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
Changing the Locks in Missouri
Missouri law prohibits landlords from unilaterally changing the locks on tenants. However, Missouri law does not expressly forbid tenants from changing the locks.
Local Laws in Missouri
Kansas City Landlord-Tenant Rights
Kansas City adopted a new Tenant’s Bill of Rights in 2019 that requires landlords to provide certain amenities like heating, water, plumbing, electric fixtures, and cooking equipment. Tenants can also refuse entry to landlords that do not follow notification policies.
St. Louis Tenant Rights
The city of St. Louis enshrine protections against discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation or source of income. Landlords are also not allowed to charge rent if they do not obtain a Certificate of Inspection for the unit.
In addition, check your local county and municipality for additional landlord-tenant regulations.