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Disputes between landlords and tenants are common. These disputes can be avoided if each party understands the basics of the Missouri rental laws. Luckily for landlords and tenants in Missouri, these laws are relatively straightforward.

Our team at Young Management Corporation has provided an overview of the landlord-tenant laws in the state of Missouri to help you out.

Small Claims Lawsuits in Missouri

In Missouri, you can file a lawsuit in a small claims court for a maximum amount of $5,000. Unlike a district court, court procedures in a small claims court are quick, inexpensive, informal and simple. A lawyer usually isn’t necessary.

There are many situations where a small claims court is a good idea. Typical situations include:

  • Breach of a verbal or written contract
  • Broken or damaged property
  • Getting back rent that you are owed
  • Personal injury claims with limited damages and injuries
  • Getting your security deposit back

Missouri Security Deposit Limit and Return

Security deposits are often a source of conflict between landlords and tenants. Here are some of the fundamental facts of Missouri’s security deposit law. For a complete overview of the security deposit laws in Missouri, please click here.

  • How much can landlords charge as a security deposit?

Missouri rental law, states that landlords can charge a maximum of two months’ rent as security deposit.

  • Do landlords need to give tenants a written notice after receiving their security deposit?

No, Missouri landlords don’t have to.

  • Is a walkthrough inspection necessary in Missouri?

Yes. Landlords in Missouri must perform a walk-through inspection after the renter moves out of the rental property. A walkthrough inspection helps assess whether the renter has left the property in the same condition it was in when they moved in. Tenants who have caused property damage in excess of wear and tear are liable for the damages.

  • How should landlords store security deposits in Missouri?

The Missouri security deposit law doesn’t compel landlords to store a tenant’s security deposit in any particular way.

  • When should a landlord return a tenant’s security deposit in Missouri?

Like in most states, landlords in Missouri need to return a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days. This is, however, assuming there are no deductions to be made.

Missouri Fair Housing Laws

Both the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act mandate that people have equal housing opportunities and not be discriminated in housing based on certain protected characteristics.

The protected characteristics include familial status, mental health, national origin, color, race, sex, and disability.

Acts that may pass as discriminatory in Missouri include:

  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
  • Providing different housing services or facilities to certain individuals
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rent
  • Making housing unavailable to certain individuals
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of housing
  • Refusing to rent or sell housing

Landlord Right to Entry in Missouri

Tenants have a right to privacy, which includes freedom from an unreasonable number of landlord visits. Although many states have laws requiring landlords to give prior notice to their tenants, in Missouri, there are no laws requiring it.

That being said, landlords generally give their renters a 24 hours’ notice prior to entering the rental unit. The notice must also state the intent of the entry.

Landlords may enter a rental unit for various reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • To make property repairs
  • To inspect the unit
  • If the tenant has abandoned the property
  • To show the property to prospective tenants
  • If the tenant has violated safety or health codes
  • To issue an eviction notice
  • Under court orders
  • In emergency cases

The time of entry must be reasonable. Ideally anytime, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during weekdays and between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. during weekends is acceptable. Other times may also be allowed so long as both parties agree.

Missouri Eviction Laws

Landlords may evict a tenant for any of the following reasons:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Property damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • Holdover tenant (a renter who fails to move at the end of the tenancy)
  • Violation of the lease terms
  • Subletting without the landlord’s knowledge
  • Criminal activities inside the rental property

Types of evictions in Missouri:

  • Rent-and-possession evictions. Before filing for an eviction lawsuit in a district or a small claims court, the landlord must first give the tenant a “Pay or Quit” notice. This notice simply notifies the tenant that they have to pay rent or vacate the premises within a certain timeframe.

If the renter fails to do so, then the landlord has a right to file for their eviction in court.

  • Unlawful detainer. This is the kind of notice used to evict a tenant for “holding over” or violating a lease term. Here, the tenant has 10 days to correct, or “cure” the violation. If they don’t, the landlord will be free to file the complaint about unlawful detainer in court.
  • Expedited eviction. Expedited evictions are unique. Unique in the sense that a neighborhood association or a prosecuting attorney can file the eviction in place of the landlord. Generally, expedited evictions may occur if:
  • The renter or a person known to the renter engages in a drug-related activity in the rental unit.
  • The tenant causes property damage that exceeds a year’s worth of rent.
  • The tenant presents a physical danger to neighbors

Missouri Lease Agreement Laws

A lease is a contractual agreement between a landlord and a tenant. It stipulates the rights and responsibilities of each party. In Missouri, rental agreements are required for a lease that exceeds 12 months. For a period shorter than 12 months, a written lease isn’t necessary.

At the very least, a lease in Missouri should include the following:

  • The term of the lease
  • Amount of security deposit and conditions for its return
  • Rent due date and grace period
  • Amount of monthly rent
  • Address of rental property
  • Landlord’s name, address, and phone number

Occupancy limits do exist in Missouri. The Missouri property laws only allow two people per bedroom. This limitation doesn’t, however, apply to children born to the tenant.

The lease also contains a special exception to certain members of the armed forces. The servicemembers civil relief act, enacted in 2003, provides protections to individuals in military service.

Specifically, it protects sailors, soldiers, airmen, coast guardsmen, Marines, commissioned officers in the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Active-duty members of the armed forces may end a lease with 15 days’ notice if they:

  • Are discharged or released from active duty
  • Receive a permanent change of station
  • Are ordered to live in government-supplied quarters
  • Receive temporary duty orders to a station at least 25 miles away for 90 days or more

Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent or “Repair and Deduct” in Missouri

Landlords in Missouri must provide habitable housing to their tenants. If they don’t, renters have two options. One, to “repair and deduct.” That is, to hire professional services to fix the problem and deduct the cost from the rent. And two, withhold rent until the landlord deals with the repairs.

This overview of landlord-tenant laws in Missouri is only meant to be informational. For specific questions, kindly seek help from a qualified Missouri attorney.