The Full Guide on Landlord Tenant Laws - Missouri 
In Missouri, landlords and tenants have to navigate a set of local and state rental laws that affect their rights and duties in the landlord-tenant relationship. These rules can be complex, even for experienced landlords and renters.
To help both parties understand the rental laws in The Show-Me State, we crafted this comprehensive guide. It covers topics ranging from tenant screening and rental agreements to eviction procedures and security deposits. With this guide, landlords and tenants will gain a solid grasp of Missouri’s rental laws as outlined in MRS Title 29 Chapter 441.
Landlords will find strategies to protect their rental properties and build positive relationships with tenants. Tenants will learn valuable information about their rights while residing in a rental home.
Missouri landlord tenant law fast facts
Missouri landlord responsibilities and rights
Missouri state law grants rights to landlords that help them run successful rental properties protected from legal issues. A few of their main rights include:
- Collecting on-time rent payments
- Charging a security deposit to cover unforeseen costs like damage beyond normal wear and tear at the end of the lease
- Legally evicting a tenant in the case of a lease agreement breach
Missouri rental owners also have a set of duties to uphold to ensure a smooth tenancy and safe living environment for renters. Their main obligations are as follows:
- Providing a rental property that meets basic health and safety regulations and codes
- Making repairs within a “reasonable” amount of time after receiving notice from tenants
- Returning the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out
Missouri tenant responsibilities and rights
Similar to landlords, Missouri law also provides tenants with their own set of rights. For tenants, these laws ensure legal protection and safety during their lease period. A few of their key rights include:
- Living in a safe and habitable rental that meets local health and safety codes
- Having repairs made in a “reasonable” amount of time after providing the landlord with notice of the issues
- Taking legal action like suing the landlord for failure to make repairs in a reasonable time
Missouri tenants too have responsibilities they must complete while residing in a rental unit. They must:
- Pay rent on time
- Keep the unit in a safe and habitable condition
- Perform minor repairs that are outlined in the lease
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
Missouri landlord tenant law through the rental cycle
Missouri tenant screening and rental application laws
Missouri has very few statutory provisions covering the rental application and tenant screening process. For example, the state doesn’t weigh in on how much a landlord can charge for an application fee or whether the fee is refundable.
While landlords are free to ask any questions on the rental application, they are bound by the federal Fair Housing Act laws. Additionally, landlords cannot run background checks without the tenant’s consent to do so. Background checks include items such as credit reports, rental history, and criminal history.
Missouri lease agreement laws
Both oral and written rental agreements are accepted in Missouri. However, leases over one year should always be documented in writing. Additionally, oral agreements are deemed month-to-month leases.
While Missouri doesn’t require specific clauses to be included in lease agreements, other than mandatory disclosures, there is certain information that should always be included in a lease. For example, landlords should include their name, his or her business address, phone number, rent amount, and lease period, along with other details.
Missouri security deposit laws
Like other states, Missouri landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit at the start of the lease to cover unexpected costs like property damage beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords can’t charge more than the equivalent of 2 months’ rent for the deposit.
Other Missouri security deposit regulations to note:
- Landlords are not required to provide a security deposit receipt.
- Landlords do not have to pay interest on a security deposit.
- Security deposits must be held in a federally-insured bank, credit union, or other financial institution.
After the end of a lease period, Missouri landlords have 30 days to return the tenant’s security deposit. Landlords can make deductions from the deposit for reasons including damage exceeding normal wear and tear, unpaid rent and late fees, carpet cleaning, and costs due to an early termination of the lease. If deductions are made, the landlord must provide an itemized list of the damages that outlines why a tenant won’t be receiving the full amount of their deposit back.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, the tenant can sue for twice the amount wrongfully withheld.
Missouri rent laws
Missouri does not have state rent control laws and prohibits cities and towns from creating their own rent control laws. This permits landlords to charge any amount of rent and increase rent payments as often as they choose. However, landlords cannot increase the rent during the lease period unless the rental agreement allows it.
If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords can immediately charge a late fee of any amount, as Missouri doesn’t have grace period laws or late fee maximums. But, to charge a late fee, it must be mentioned on the lease.
Missouri repair and maintenance laws
Landlords in Missouri are required to provide rentals that meet basic health and safety requirements. This includes making repairs within a “reasonable” time after receiving notice from tenants.
If a landlord fails to make repairs within a timely manner, Missouri renters can take a few legal actions: sue for costs, force the landlord to make repairs via court order, or make minor repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their next rent payment—known as the “repair and deduct” remedy. In severe cases, they may also cancel the rental agreement altogether or withhold rent, but only rare exceptions allow for the latter.
Missouri notice of entry laws
Missouri law does not regulate landlord entry into a rental property, thus, the lease agreement normally regulates the terms of access. Generally, landlords have the right to enter the property for reasons such as maintenance and inspections, plus emergencies. Unless an emergency, it’s a good practice for landlords to provide advanced notice before entering the property (usually 24 to 48 hours).
Missouri eviction and lease termination laws
Missouri law allows landlords to evict tenants for specific legal reasons, and depending on the reason, landlords must provide a notice period. The reasons and accompanying notice periods for Missouri evictions include:
- Unpaid rent: Missouri does not require landlords to provide a notice period for rent that goes unpaid. This allows landlords to pursue an eviction immediately.
- Lease violation: If a tenant violates the lease, landlords can issue a 10-day notice to cure or quit. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process. Some severe lease violations may warrant immediate eviction.
- Illegal activity: If the landlord has documentation of actions including illegal gambling, prostituion, or posession/sale of drugs occuring on the property, they may file a 10-day notice to quit. If the tenant does not leave the premises in that time frame, landlords can file an unlawful detainer suit.
Missouri tenants can too terminate the lease agreement early for legal reasons including:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harrassment
- Uninhabitable unit
Tenants who break their lease early could still be responsible for paying out the remainder of the rent. However, Missouri landlords must make a reasonal effort to re-rent the unit.
Additional Missouri landlord tenant laws
On top of addressing rental issues like repairs and evictions, Missouri state law also covers topics like landlord retaliation and mandatory disclosures. Discover some of the specific regulations around these matters below.
Only federal laws protect Missouri renters from housing discrimination, meaning the state doesn’t offer protections for any additional groups. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
If a landlord violates these laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
It’s illegal for Missouri landlords to retaliate against their tenants for taking legal actions like reporting the landlord to government authorities for violating health and safety codes. However, there is no statutory provision regarding retaliation in the state, thus, renter’s protection from retaliation is much lower than in other states.
Missourilaw requires landlords to provide renters with disclosures at the beginning of the lease period. The disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint: Landlords with rentals built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
- Authorized agent: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
Bottom line: Why you need to understand Missouri landlord tenant laws
Missouri’s rental laws were crafted to ascribe both rights and responsibilities to landlords and tenants. While their top priority is to ensure a fair rental process, these laws also help foster positive landlord-tenant relationships.
By becoming familiar with and complying with these regulations, Missouri landlords can protect their investments and run a successful rental business. At the same time, this knowledge empowers tenants to confidently assert their rights and ensure a safe rental home.
Furthermore, rental owners and tenants should continue to do their due diligence in educating themselves on Missouri’s landlord-tenant laws as they stand now and evolve into the future.
Missouri landlord tenant law FAQ
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Missouri Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court is designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money in a simplified and expedited manner. In Missouri, a Small Claims Court will hear rental cases for up to $5,000. Beyond this amount, tenants should seek out legal services. The process usually takes one to three months.
Is Missouri a landlord-friendly state?
Missouri is generally considered a landlord-friendly state—it ranks 29th on this list of landlord-friendly states. This is because the state lacks rent control laws, allowing landlords to charge any amount for rent payments and increase rent as they wish. Additionally, Missouri boasts a low cost of living and a handful of tax breaks which make it a great location for real estate investment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.