Monday, June 24, 2024

Missouri Landlord-Tenant Laws

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As a landlord in Missouri, you are responsible for knowing and following the regulations of the property management industry. Rental businesses are regulated on both the federal and state levels, and an awareness of both is essential.

 

In order to help you avoid any potential legal issues in the future, this article will provide you with an overview of some of the most important things to know about Missouri landlord tenant laws. Hopefully it will help you to make informed decisions that ensure your business practices are compliant.

 

Fair Housing Protections

 

When it comes to choosing prospective tenants for rental properties, all fifty states are subject to the federal Fair Housing Act. Passed in 1968, the act illegalizes any housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, or familial status. Missouri state law also prohibits any discrimination on the basis of ancestry. 

 

Missouri allows landlords to run criminal background checks on prospective tenants and consider the results in their decisions. However, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommends avoiding any blanket policies or merely treating the existence of a criminal record as grounds to refuse a tenant. Instead, you should consider every applicant individually and determine whether any findings indicate a threat to safety or a serious inability to follow the terms of a lease agreement.

 

Rent and Late Fees

 

Missouri rent laws ban the practice of rent control, meaning that there can be no enforced limit on the amount charged for rent. However, in deciding the amount you charge for rent, you should consider the pricing trends in the area so that your rental properties are competitive. The median monthly rent in Missouri is $1,300, which falls below the national average. 

 

There is also no legal limit placed on the amount that can be charged for late fees. Neither are grace periods mandated in the state, meaning that a landlord could theoretically charge a tenant who has failed to pay rent any amount for late fees immediately after the rent collection date has passed. 

 

However, much like with how much you charge for rent, you may want to consider reasonable amounts. A standard late fee for rent is generally around 5-10% of the total rent amount. If you consider the median monthly rent cost in the state, this puts the standard late fee between $65-$130.  

 

Security Deposits

 

Though rent and late fees are not regulated, there is a limit placed on how much can be charged for a security deposit. Landlords in the state are only allowed to charge up to the cost of two months’ rent (~$2,600 using the state median). 

 

Security deposits must be returned within 30 days after a tenancy has ended, but the landlord is allowed to withhold funds to pay for issues involving property damage or unpaid rent as noted on an itemized list of deductions. Additionally, any interest accumulated on the security deposit while it is being held belongs to you and is not required to be returned to the tenant. 

 

Eviction

 

If a tenant has persistently failed to pay rent and you wish to take action towards eviction, Missouri laws on eviction do not require the issuing of a rent demand notice. Action towards eviction may be taken immediately. Given that there is also no minimum grace period in the state, this can take place at any point after the rent collection period has passed. Keep in mind that eviction is a long and complicated legal process, and you should carefully consider your options before you take any action.

 

If a tenant violates another lease term besides nonpayment, state law requires a ten-day period in which a tenant has the opportunity to rectify the violation before you can file for eviction. If you are issuing an unconditional notice to quit for illegal activity or other serious violations, the law also require you to provide a minimum of ten days’ notice for the tenant to vacate the property. You are not required to give the tenant an opportunity to remedy the breach in this case. 

 

Another important law to know in Missouri is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This law makes exceptions for early lease termination in the case of active service members. If their lease was signed before active duty and they will be on duty for the next 90 days, they may break their lease agreement early if they provide a written notice. 

 

Conclusion

 

Studying all the property management laws in Missouri can be hard work but considering all of the investments that you make into ensuring the success of your rental business, taking the necessary steps to avoid any legal trouble is worth the trouble.

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