Disputes between landlords and tenants are common, and many could be avoided if both parties better understood Missouri law and were more aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Landlord-tenant disputes are a common occurrence in the renting process. Some of these disputes could be avoided if landlords and tenants were aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Tenants should:

  • Pay rent on time.
  • Use reasonable care and not damage property.
  • Properly dispose of garbage.
  • Refrain from taking on additional occupants or subleasing without the landlord’s written permission.

Landlords should:

  • Make property habitable before tenants move in.
  • Make and pay for repairs due to ordinary wear and tear.
  • Refrain from turning off a tenant’s water, electricity or gas.
  • Provide written notice to tenants when ownership of the property is transferred to a new landlord.
  • Not unlawfully discriminate.

Missouri’s landlord-tenant laws offer protection for tenants renting from unresponsive landlords as well as options for landlords to get rid of drug dealers, destructive tenants and persons unlawfully occupying a premise.

Renters are bound either by an oral or written agreement.  Written agreements are more common and better protect the tenant and the landlord. When a lease is signed by both parties, it becomes a binding legal contract. If any party does not fulfill the terms of the lease, the person who defaults can be sued, which can be expensive. A  tenant is not excused from honoring a lease simply because he does not understand or did not read it. When considering a written lease agreement, tenants should:

  • Read the entire contract and ask questions or obtain a legal opinion about unclear provisions.
  • Ask for changes. If tenants dislike certain provisions in the lease, they have the right to ask landlords to amend the lease with written changes. A landlord has the right to refuse the requested change, and the tenant must then decide whether to sign the lease.
  •  Do not rely on verbal statements. All promises and agreements should be in writing for your protection.

BASIC LEASE PROVISIONS At a minimum the lease should include:

  • Landlord’s name, address and phone number.
  • Address of rental property.
  • Amount of monthly rent.
  • Rent due date and grace period (if any).
  • Amount of security deposit and conditions for its return.
  • Length of lease.

OTHER QUESTIONS Before renting, tenants might get other questions answered or address them in the lease:

  • Who will pay for electricity, gas and water?
  • What repairs and cleaning will the landlord do?
  • What is the policy on keeping pets?
  • Are fees charged for late payments?
  • Who takes cares of the yard and removes snow?

You can find the state statutes at www.moga.mo.gov/. Chapters 441, 534 and 535 address landlord-tenant issues.

DISCRIMINATION

Landlords cannot refuse to sell, rent, sublease or otherwise make housing available based on a renter’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.

Landlords also cannot charge some individuals higher rent or falsely state that housing is not available for discriminatory reasons.

However, there are some exceptions to these rules. If you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination, contact one of these agencies:

Missouri Human Rights Commission

  • Toll-free: 877-781-4236
  • Jefferson City: 573-751-3325
  • St. Louis: 314-340-7590

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing Discrimination Hotline: 800-669-9777

Housing Authority of Kansas City

For residents of Kansas City: 816-968-4100

Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council

For residents of St. Louis city and St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson counties: 314-534-5800 or 800-965-3462