Conflicts between tenants and landlords regarding security deposits are fairly common. These conflicts can be evaded if each party understands the basics of the Missouri Security Deposit law.
The Missouri Security Deposit Laws are contained under the statewide Missouri landlord-tenant laws. The laws allow landlords to collect security deposits from their tenants.
By collecting security deposits, landlords are able to cushion themselves against financial ruin. For example, in the event that the tenant is unable to pay rent or in the event they cause excessive property damage.
Here are 8 frequently asked questions about Missouri security deposits.
1. What happens to the tenant’s security deposit when a landlord sells a property?
The landlord must do either of two things. He or she must transfer the deposit to the new owner. Next, he or she must notify the tenant in writing of the transfer. This can be done using a Change in Ownership/Management notice.
The other option the landlord has is to return all or a portion of the deposit back to the tenant directly.
2. Is a walk-through inspection necessary under Missouri’s Rental Laws?
Yes, it’s necessary. Landlords in Missouri must perform a walk-through inspection once the tenancy comes to an end. The inspection helps to check whether the renter has caused damage exceeding “normal wear and tear.”
Examples of property damage exceeding normal wear and tear include:
- Outdoor furniture left in the patio or a trash pile in the yard
- Missing door handles
- Burns and chips on a laminate countertop
- Broken bathroom tiles
3. Do landlords need to provide renter with a written notice after receipt of their deposit?
No, they don’t. The landlord doesn’t have to notify the tenant of where and how their deposit is being stored by the landlord.
Many landlords however still include a clause about the renter’s deposit in their Missouri lease. The clause usually includes:
- The amount of the security deposit collected
- The date the deposit was collected
- The security deposit rules including procedures for return and reasons for deductions
4. How should landlords in Missouri store a renter’s security deposit?
In Missouri, there is no particular statute that dictates how landlords should store a tenant’s deposit. The Missouri security deposit law doesn’t say that it must be stored in a bank or financial institution.
Additionally, there is no requirement as to whether the holding account must be interest-bearing or not.
5. When should a landlord return a tenant’s security deposit?
In the state of Missouri, a landlord has 30 days to return a tenant’s security deposit once they move out. If there are no deductions, the landlord must return the entire security deposit back to the renter.
If there are any deductions to the security deposit, the landlord must include an itemized list of deductions alongside the portion of the deposit being returned. Then, the landlord must mail all these items to the tenant’s last known address.
6. When does a Missouri landlord keep a tenant’s security deposit?
There are many reasons that a landlord will keep all or a portion of the renter’s security deposit. These are:
- If a tenant terminates their lease early. Typically, a lease agreement lasts 12 months. If a renter breaks the lease before the entire 12 months are over, it’s then considered a breach of contract. The landlord can keep the renter’s deposit to mitigate against the resulting financial damage.
- Failure by the renter to pay rent. Tenants must pay rents on time. Otherwise, it’s a breach of Missouri lease laws. To cover the lost rent, Missouri landlords can keep a portion of the deposit.
- Excessive property damage. Under a typical residential lease, tenants must return the property to as close to its initial condition as possible. If they don’t, landlords have a right to deduct the appropriate amounts from their security deposit to cover the excessive damage.
- Unpaid utilities. A renter may not be entitled to the return of their full deposit if they’ve not paid their utility bills.
That being said, however, the landlord can face legal action if they wrongfully withhold a tenant’s deposit. Usually, a court will award the tenant up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld.
7. Is the security deposit refundable?
Yes, it is. As per Missouri security deposit laws, security deposits are the property of the tenant. All or a portion of it must be returned to the tenant when they move out.
8. What is the security deposit limit in Missouri?
According to the state’s security deposit laws, landlords can charge the equivalent of two months’ rent as a security deposit. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,500, then the security deposit for that rental unit should be $3,000.
By understanding these laws, Missouri landlords and tenants can greatly reduce conflicts arising from security deposits’ use and return.