missouri lease agreementAre there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in Missouri?
The state of Missouri has not established rent control or stabilization.

May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee?
Reasonable cost should always be kept in mind when initiating any charges. There are no restrictions or limits placed on the collection of a late charge or application fee. However, a fee not to exceed $25, plus an amount equal to the actual charge by the depository institution is permitted for the return of each unpaid or dishonored instrument. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.120

What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit and can I charge a refundable pet deposit over and above the maximum security deposit limit?
The security deposit may not exceed an amount greater than two month’s rent. There is no limit on a pet deposit, assuming that it is designated as such and detailed separately within the lease.

Do I need a separate bank account for the security deposit?
There are no requirements stating that a landlord must place the security deposit in a separate escrow account in Missouri. However, if a property management company is managing the property and collecting the rent and security deposit and holding those deposits for the landlord, Missouri real estate brokerage guidelines require that the property management company hold the deposits in a separate escrow account. It is not necessary to specify the escrow account information in the lease.

After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send their security deposit back?
If proper notice is given, landlords must return the security deposit or the balance of the security deposit with an accounting of the deductions within 30 days. If non-proper or no notice is given, the landlord has 30 days after becoming aware that the rental unit is vacated, or tenancy has been terminated in order to return the security deposit. Please Note: funds may be withheld from the security deposit to cover unpaid rent, or damages. "Damages" is defined as deterioration to the premises or contents of the premises, but doesn’t include "normal, non-abusive living" or any failure of the landlord to comply with the landlord's obligations.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
A fairly common issue regarding the return of a security deposit is obtaining a forwarding address for the tenant. To circumvent this problem a landlord should insist upon a mailing address that is separate from the rental location, such as a post-office box.

How can I end a Missouri lease agreement?
A fixed term lease is a lease that has a beginning date and an end date. The lease agreement would supply the language to end a fixed term lease. The lease agreement would also specify whether a notice is needed or whether the lease would simply end at the end of the agreement. A periodic lease is a lease that continues from term to term (i.e. month to month). Periodic leases continue until either a landlord or tenant gives the other notice of at least 30 days. Where no written lease is used the notice requirements would be the same as if a periodic lease was in place.

Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable or If the tenant is called to active military duty. Additionally, a tenant may seek release from a rental agreement with the court when a landlord does not abide by the state’s landlord obligations.

In the event of the death of a tenant, what are my legal rights as a landlord?
The landlord has the right to terminate the lease if the rent is not being paid, and sue the estate of the decedent for any unpaid rent. If the rent is being paid, the lease would continue unaffected.

What is the notice that is required for Non-payment of Rent?
While the statute in Missouri provides that demand for rent must be made as a requirement for filing a Landlord Tenant action, there is no set method for demanding the rent, and it may be done verbally. In addition, the statute provides that if prior demand was not made on the tenant, the service of the summons for the Landlord Tenant action serves as a demand for the rent. For an Unlawful Detainer Rent & Possession case, the tenant must be served personally at least 4 days in advance of the court date, and in a Rent & Possession case for possession only, the summons must be posted at least 10 days prior to the court date.

Are there special requirements for the delivery or service of notices, for example, constable, sheriff or a registered process server, taped to entrance, certified mail, etc.?
Lease termination notices must be hand-delivered, and can be received by any adult person. In the event the tenant cannot be found at the property, the termination notice may be posted on the door.

How long does the eviction process take?
It depends on many factors but generally it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to get possession.

My tenant has not moved out and I was awarded possession by a judge. Can I lock my tenant out? How do I remove him?
There is a 10 day right to appeal the judgment. After the 10 day period has passed, the landlord may file an Execution on the judgment with the court. The Court will process the paperwork and either forward it to the attorney/landlord or the sheriff's department. Once the sheriff's fees are paid, the sheriff will make an appointment with the landlord to supervise the eviction and keep the peace. The sheriff will remove the tenant if necessary, but the landlord is required to provide the manpower to remove the belongings, if necessary. The sheriff will allow the landlord to change the locks once all of the tenant's belongings have been removed.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times a tenant will leave without notice and leave property behind. The best way for the landlord to handle this is to go through the courts. It is generally up to the judge to determine if a property is in fact abandoned.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
Landlords must give reasonable notice (24 hours) except in cases of emergency.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Additional Missouri rental resources and a Landlord Forum for legal questions answered by our community of attorneys, landlords and property managers are available as well.