Leases

Landlords experience stress when tenants are not paying rent.  The best way to protect themselves is to have a good written lease agreement from the beginning. They also need to be firm and consistent when a tenant makes a late payment. If they have an attorney prepare a good default notice, the landlord can use the notice each time a tenant is in default. Then when a default is not quickly cured, they are already properly set up for an eviction. Landlords should work with their attorney to get the documents set up in advance and create a system to streamline the process in order to attempt to lose less time and money on non-paying tenants.

Can I keep the security deposit?

Missouri law states that in regard to residential real estate leases, the landlord may not demand or receive a security deposit in excess of two months rent. Thus, if the landlord collects a security deposit along with first and last month’s rent, the security deposit should not exceed one month’s rent because by collecting the last month’s rent in advance, it would be considered part of the security deposit. The law regarding two months’ rent does not include any additional pet deposit. Thus, a pet deposit may be charged along with two months’ rent, so long as it is specifically stated in the lease that the additional amount is intended for use as a pet deposit. Within 30 days after termination of the lease, the landlord must send written notice of the time and date of an inspection of the property. The landlord must then inspect the property and provide the findings of such inspection in writing to the tenant in person or by mail to the last known address of tenant. During the 30-day period, the landlord then must either return the security deposit or furnish the tenant with an itemized list of damages for which the security deposit will be applied. If only a portion of the security deposit is being withheld, the itemized list of damages must be supplied to the tenant in addition to the remaining balance of the deposit prior to the end of the 30-day period. If the damages to the property exceed the security deposit, Missouri law does allow the landlord to file suit against the tenant for any deficiency.

For more information, see Section 535.300 or the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri.