Eviction in Missouri


What is eviction?

Eviction is removal of a tenant from a rental property by a landlord through court actions such as rent & possession or unlawful detainer.


What is a rent & possession action?

If you are past due on your rent, a landlord may try to evict you through a rent & possession action.  A rent & possession lawsuit is the method to evict someone for failing to pay rent.


I’m past due with my rent and I’m afraid my landlord may evict me. What should I do?

If you are not current with your rent, you should first attempt to make payment arrangements with your landlord. While your landlord is not required to accept a payment plan, it is best to get any agreements in writing to avoid future disputes regarding what you agreed to.


What is an unlawful detainer action?

Unlawful detainer is the legal action by which a landlord seeks to evict you if you fail to move when your lease expires, if your lease has been terminated or if you were not allowed to live on the property in the first place.  Many leases are for a specific time period.


How will I know if my landlord can file for unlawful detainer against me?

Because an unlawful detainer action cannot begin until your lease agreement has ended, either your lease must expire or your landlord must take action to terminate your lease.  The landlord can terminate your lease for any violation of the lease terms and must provide notice of termination, the reason for termination, and time to move.  Since the amount of time you have to vacate after lease termination can vary depending on the reason for termination, immediately seek legal help if you are served with notice of lease termination from your landlord.

It is important to be aware that many leases are for a fixed time period, but these agreements often
contain provisions for automatic renewal when the original term ends.  Be sure to carefully read your written lease for the specific new arrangement that begins when your agreement expires.


How will I know if I have been sued?

You will receive notice from the court that you have been sued. This notice can be done by personal service (where someone hands it to you or someone that lives in your home) or by posting (where it is taped to your front door and you get a copy of the lawsuit in the mail). If you have been served with a summons, now is the time to seek legal assistance.


What is unlawful eviction?

Unlawful eviction is any attempt by the landlord to evict a tenant without a court order. Only a judge can order a tenant to move.  Illegal “self-help” evictions may include the landlord changing your locks, threatening you or engaging in physical violence against you, or removing your personal property.


How long will I have to move out?

Once a judge orders you to move, after a hearing or if you fail to show in court, you will have 10 days to move from your rental property. If you fail to do so, the court will order the sheriff in your county to evict you from the rental property. How long it will take for the sheriff to actually make you move varies county-to-county, but you will not want to take the chance of still being in your rental property once the sheriff shows up to make you move. If a sheriff is required to make you move, they may make you leave the rental property – and your personal belongings – immediately. It then can become extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get your personal belongings back from the landlord.

If you appear in court and agree to move, it is possible the sheriff could come to the home at any time to make you move. Therefore, if you appear in court and agree to move, it is extremely important to talk to the landlord or landlord’s attorney to arrange for some time to move.

Columbia Office

Jefferson City Office