Missouri Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Missouri Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: January 19, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent and late fees
  • Costs of damage
  • Damages due to early termination
  • Carpet cleaning
Return Deadline 30 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x amount wrongfully withheld + attorneys’ fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Missouri, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Missouri

In Missouri, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Monetary damage as a result of early termination of the lease
  • Carpet cleaning

Most states, such as Missouri, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Missouri?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Missouri?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Missouri?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Missouri?

Landlords in Missouri can charge a cleaning fee if it is specifically stated in the lease agreement, the landlord does not charge for cleaning done as a result of normal wear and tear, and the cleaning fee is limited to the actual cost.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Missouri?

Yes, in Missouri, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Missouri?

In Missouri, a tenant is not entitled to apply the security deposit toward rent. However, the law allows landlords to deduct any unpaid rent from the security deposit.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Missouri

Landlords must notify tenants in writing by hand delivery or mail of their right to attend a final inspection scheduled by the landlord at a reasonable time. Landlords must return any remaining portion of a security deposit within 30 days from the termination of the lease with an itemized list of damages (if any).

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Missouri?

Missouri landlords have 30 days after the lease term ends to return any remaining portion of a security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Missouri?

Missouri law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits. If a landlord chooses to hold a security deposit in an interest-bearing account, the interest belongs to them and not the tenant.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Missouri?

In Missouri, an itemized list of damages (if any) must be sent by mail to the tenant’s last known address along with any remaining portion of the security deposit. If deductions are made for carpet cleaning, a receipt must be provided.

Security Deposit Disputes in Missouri

If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide an itemized statement of deductions, if any, within the required time period, tenants can file for damages in court up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Deductions that are not mentioned in the lease agreement
  • Failure to provide written notice of or conduct a final inspection
  • Failure to deposit the security deposit in an account of a financial institution
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Missouri?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in the small claims division of Circuit Court if the amount of damages is less than $5,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in the Circuit Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 3 years.

Cases are filed in the Circuit Court where the property is located or where the defendant lives. An attorney is not required but permitted.Filing fees vary by court.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.

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