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You’re Out! Missouri’s Landlord Tenant Laws

Drs. Cynthia Crawford and Carole Bozworth[i]

“Youuu’rree Outttttttt!” isn’t a shout heard only at the baseball park. It can also be part of a loud conversation between a landlord and her tenant.

The Missouri Attorney General wants you to know the laws, regardless of whether you are a landlord, a tenant, or a person advising a landlord or tenant. If you are not a resident of Missouri, this article can pique your interest about the laws in your state. Landlord tenant law is state specific.

Let’s try a quiz:

Which of the following actions of a tenant would be grounds for eviction?

  1. Damage to the property
  2. Failure to pay rent
  3. Violation of the terms of the lease
  4. Allowing drug-related criminal activity on the premises
  5. All of the above.

You return to your apartment one day and find that all of your belongings are outside and the locks on the door have been changed. Your landlord says that she had the right to evict you for failing to pay rent. Is this true or false?

  • True False

You ask the landlord to make a repair to your apartment. She fails to do so, allowing you to legally quit paying rent. True or false?

  • True False

You are late paying your rent so your landlord decides to turn off your electricity and water until you pay the rent. The landlord is legally allowed to turn off utilities to punish late rent payments? Is this true or false?

  • True False

You have given your landlord proper notice that you will be terminating your lease. You wake up in the middle of the night to find your landlord inspecting your apartment for damages. The landlord tells you she is allowed to inspect for damages anytime during the last month of the lease. Is this true or false?

  • True False

Your landlord discovers that you are selling illegal drugs from your apartment. You receive a written court order from the local county court ordering you to immediately vacate the apartment. You argue that you are entitled to more notice. Is this true or false?

  • True False

If you are evicted from a rental property, that eviction will likely show up on your credit report in the future. Is this true or false?

  • True False

Your landlord withheld 100% of your security deposit to cover damage that you can prove was due to normal use. You may sue to recover up to double the amount that was withheld.

  • True False

Answers

  1. All of the above
  2. False! While failure to pay rent is grounds for eviction, a landlord may not evict a tenant without a court order. The tenant will receive notice that an eviction lawsuit has been filed and is entitled to the opportunity to be heard in court.
  3. False! While you should expect landlords to make needed repairs, withholding rent is a mistake. Failure to pay rent is grounds for eviction. In very specific cases a tenant may make repairs and deduct the cost from the rent only if very specific conditions have been met. Investigate these conditions carefully on the Missouri Attorney General’s website.
  4. False! The landlord cannot interrupt utility service, unless it is for health and safety reasons.
  5. False! The landlord must notify the tenant of the time and date the landlord plans to inspect the dwelling. The tenant has the right to be present at the inspection (and you want to be there) and the inspection must be at a reasonable time.
  6. False! You’re immediately able to be evicted. The law authorizes county courts to order the quick removal of tenants involved in drug-related criminal activity or violence, even when there is no arrest. Prior written notice is not required to remove a tenant.
  7. True! An eviction is a legal proceeding and, as such, it will likely show up under the public record information on your credit report. That’s one reason prospective landlords often want to check your credit report. Being evicted can make it tough to get into rental property in the future.
  8. True! The tenant has the right to sue to recover double the amount that was wrongfully withheld.

You can learn more about Missouri’s Landlord-Tenant laws by ordering a free booklet from the Missouri Attorney General’s website: http://ago.mo.gov/publications/landlordtenant.htm

Or, take an additional set of quiz questions:

http://ago.mo.gov/cgi-bin/ConsumerCorner/quizzes/Landlord-Tenant-Law.cgi.

PS: Don’t forget to forward this to your friends, wherever they may be. Your high school personal finance teacher might find the financial tip series to be useful for educating tomorrow’s college students. Thanks.