How to Evict a Tenant
According to Landlordology, “Being a great landlord doesn’t mean that you’re immune
from having bad tenants. Yes, tenant screening is important,
but even under the best of circumstances, it’s not unusual for a
well-intentioned tenant to struggle to pay rent from time to time.” That is why
you need to know how to evict a tenant.
Eviction seems harsh, but it’s the business of rental
properties. If a tenant can’t pay, you have to remove them from your property.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them to leave. Other times, you
will have to go through the formal eviction process.
How to Evict a Tenant
of the situation, before starting the eviction process, you need to know the
proper rules and procedures. How to evict a
tenant can be summarized in 7 steps.
- Understand the Eviction Laws. It
all starts with a good lease. Missouri
landlords must follow specific state (as well as federal, and often local)
rules when it comes to renting to tenants. Landlord-tenant law in Missouri
covers everything from questions you include on a rental application to how and
when you can increase rent or terminate a tenancy. Failure to comply with your
legal responsibilities can lead to costly disputes with tenants and hefty
financial penalties. In order for
the courts to be on your side, you’ll need to follow these rules closely, and
make sure that you do not give a judge any reason to doubt that you
are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.
- Have a Valid Reason for Eviction. The eviction notice must state why the
tenant is being evicted and give them a specified amount of time to correct the
problem. Common reasons to serve an eviction notice on a tenant are non-payment
of rent, breaching obligations in the lease, and holdover (the lease is up, and
the tenant will not move). Missouri law requires that an Eviction Notice be
served before an eviction lawsuit can be filed. The time period for an eviction
notice demanding rent is not specified, but the time period in the eviction
notice to end a lease is one month from the next date rent is due.
- Try to Reason with Your Tenants. “If it doesn’t look like the law is entirely on your
side, or if you just don’t want to spend the time and energy on an eviction
case, try reasoning with them.” Landlordology has a very nice script to guide
you through this process.
- Give a Formal Notice of Eviction. Missouri law requires that an Eviction
Notice be served before an eviction lawsuit can be filed. The time period for
an eviction notice demanding rent is not specified, but the time period in the
eviction notice to end a lease is one month from the next date rent is due.
Be sure the tenant is aware eviction
will ruin their credit score, and they won’t be able to get a mortgage, car
loan, or any loan for a very long time.
- File Your Eviction with the Courts. In order to file this suit, the landlord should go the
Court that handles evictions for the jurisdiction where the property sits (this
is Circuit Court in St. Louis). The landlord should tell the Court Clerk that
they need to file an eviction case for Rent and Possession. There will be a
filing fee. The Court will prepare a Summons and serve (deliver) it on the tenant.
The Summons will tell the tenant when and where the court date is. If the
tenant does not show up to court on the court date, the landlord will win by
- Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing. One of
the important steps in how to evict a tenant includes
gathering all related documentation and proof of your claim. You’ll want
to have the following items at a minimum:
- lease agreements
- bounced checks
- records of payment of any kind
- records of the communication between you and your
tenant (phone and email records).
- a copy of the written notice that you provided
- dated proof that the tenant received the notice (a signature from the tenant,
or receipt from the Post Office).
- Evicting the Tenant. If all
goes well in court (and it probably will), then your tenant will have a set
amount of time to leave, which is anywhere from 48 hours to a week.
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