Missouri Eviction Process
November 2, 2023
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Eviction In Missouri
If you own and rent properties in the state of Missouri, you are responsible for complying with Missouri eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Missouri.
Eviction Process in Missouri
- Landlord serves a zero- to ten-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 24 hours to a few days to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Missouri, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease or the law, using the premises illegally, severely damaging the property, engaging in drug-related activity on the premises, or inviting a banned person onto the property.
1. Landlord Serves a Zero- to Ten-Day Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve a Missouri eviction notice (or “demand for possession”) and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Missouri:
- Rent Demand Notice: Immediate. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must demand the rent verbally or in writing via a Missouri eviction notice and may then file for eviction immediately or at the same time the demand is issued. However, most landlords provide tenants a few days to pay their balance to avoid eviction (MRS § 535.010, 535.020).
- Lease Violation Notice: 10 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates another lease term or fails to uphold their legal obligations, the landlord must deliver this Missouri eviction notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than ten days after receipt of the notice) (MRS § 441.040).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 10 days to quit. This Missouri eviction notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies when there is any illegal use of the premises (MRS § 441.020).
Every Missouri eviction notice should be delivered either by serving a copy to the tenant personally or leaving it with another resident at the property at least 15 years old. If no one answers or there are no other residents, the notice should be posted on the premises. An officer authorized to serve judicial process may also serve the eviction notice (MRS § 534.050).
Expedited Eviction Actions
In Missouri, landlords can also initiate an expedited eviction action or immediate eviction by court order. An immediate eviction in Missouri may be ordered under one of the following circumstances as per MRS § 441.740:
- An emergency situation where failure to remove the tenant would result in physical injury to another person or damage to the landlord’s property exceeding the value of twelve months’ rent.
- Drug-related criminal activity has occurred on the premises.
- The tenant invited or permitted someone to enter the property who is currently banned from the premises.
In the emergency situations described above, the landlord has an obligation to first make a reasonable attempt to resolve the emergency situation through local public law enforcement or mental health services.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file a complaint for unlawful entry and detainer (the eviction lawsuit) in the Missouri Associate Circuit Court in the county where the property is located (MRS § 534.060). This complaint may also be called the Landlord’s Petition (downloadable here, but note that counties may have individual versions of this form).
The complaint or Landlord’s Petition should include:
- The county and case number
- The names and contact information of both parties
- Whether service is requested or if the landlord plans to use a private process server
- A description/address of the property
- The date the lease began
- The monthly rental rate
- The date of the lease violation, overdue rent, or unlawful entry
- The amount of money the landlord is claiming for damages
- The landlord’s signature
The landlord will also need to pay a court filing fee, the amount of which varies depending on the county.
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
The next step of eviction in Missouri is serving the tenant a summons. After the landlord files the complaint, the clerk of the circuit court will issue a summons. The required form of the summons can be found at MRS § 534.080, although courts generally have their own summons forms. The summons includes the date of the court hearing the tenant must attend, which typically will be scheduled no more than 21 business days (or 15 days for expedited eviction actions) from the date the summons was issued (MRS § 534.070(2), MRS § 441.720(1)).
After it is completed, the summons must be directed to the sheriff’s office (MRS § 534.070(1)). The sheriff will serve the summons, alongside a copy of the complaint, to the tenant at least four days before the court hearing date (MRS § 534.090(1)). It must be served in one of the following manners:
- Personal delivery to the tenant
- Left with a resident at the property at least 15 years old
- Posted on the premises AND mailed to the tenant’s last known address
The tenant is not required to file a written answer to attend the hearing and may present any defenses explaining why the eviction should not occur at the trial. Additionally, either party has the right to demand a trial by jury if a timely request for one is made (MRS § 534.160).
4. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor (or if a default judgment is awarded to the landlord because the tenant did not attend the hearing), the court will order that the landlord recover possession of the property.
The landlord will also be entitled to collect all damages, attorney’s fees, and other court costs. If the basis for the eviction was that the tenant sublet the property or allowed another person to solely possess the property without the landlord’s permission, the court may require the tenant to pay double the damages for rent due (MRS § 534.347).
The tenant is allowed to appeal the judgment or request the court to set aside the judgment within ten days of its issuance (MRS § 535.030(4)).
5. Tenant Gets 24 Hours to a Few Days to Move Out
The writ of restitution is the document that authorizes the sheriff to remove the tenant and gives the tenant a final notice period to move out. In Missouri, the court will issue the writ of restitution ten days after the judgment (MRS § 534.350). However, it may be delayed longer should the tenant file an appeal and post an appeal bond.
Once the writ is issued, the court will send a copy of the judgment to the sheriff’s office or other local law enforcement agency within two business days of the judgment (MRS § 534.330). The sheriff will post a copy of the writ at the rental unit and return to remove the tenant soon thereafter, depending on the type of eviction:
- For expedited evictions, the tenant gets a 24-hour final notice period to move out (MRS § 441.770(1)).
- For all other evictions, the landlord may request that the sheriff execute the judgment and restore possession of the property within 15 days of the date the judgment is finalized (MRS § 534.355). Since it takes at least ten days for the writ to be issued, this would allow the tenant about one to five days’ final notice before the sheriff returns to remove them.
Stays of Execution
In certain circumstances, the execution of an eviction order may be delayed or “stayed,” and the writ will not be served within the above time frame. A tenant who has been ordered to move out may apply to stay the eviction order on any of the following grounds as per MRS § 441.880:
- They are a drug user and will promptly enter a court-approved drug treatment program.
- The eviction was for drug-related criminal activity on the premises, but the tenant did not participate, aid, or assist in it; it was not located within 1000 feet of a school; and it did not involve the sale of drugs to minors.
- No weapon or firearm was used or possessed in connection with the reason for eviction.
- The court has not or will not issue a protective order.
- The tenant has not previously been granted a stay of execution.
- The stay will not endanger the safety, health, or wellbeing of the surrounding community or the landlord.
6. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant does not move out within the designated final notice period, the sheriff will return to enforce the writ and forcibly remove the tenant from the premises. In some cases, the landlord may need to first request execution via a Request for Writ of Execution Restitution of Possession (downloadable for Jackson County).
When a tenant abandons the rental premises and leaves behind personal property, the landlord may remove it and dispose of it after providing ten days’ notice in writing to the tenant (MRS § 441.065).
Evicting a Squatter in Missouri
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Missouri, squatters must have lived in the property for ten consecutive years to invoke Missouri squatters rights and claim right of possession (MRS § 516.010). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Missouri to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Missouri, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Missouri eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Missouri Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Missouri, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||Varies by county|
|Service of court summons||$50|
|Service of writ of possession||$50|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Missouri Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the Missouri eviction process timeline. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||0-10 days|
|Issuance of summons||15-21 business days before the hearing|
|Service of summons||4 days before the hearing|
|Tenant appeal time||10 days|
|Issuance of writ of restitution||10 days|
|Writ sent to sheriff’s office||2 business days|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||24 hours – a few days|
- Missouri’s Landlord-Tenant Law Handbook – A guide to the landlord-tenant laws in Missouri provided by the Missouri attorney general’s office.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Missouri laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.