The eviction process is a confusing legal battle that involves more than most people think. To clarify, an eviction must include a judges verdict. So, if a tenant and a landlord resolve an issue without court action, this is not an eviction. Hopefully, if you have a problem with a tenant, you can resolve it before it gets to the eviction process. But if you find yourself in an eviction situation, use this to help you understand the process.
It is also important to note that Walker Rentals does not have a license to practice law or give legal advice. We are not lawyers and do not claim to be. This article is intended for informational purposes. If you have questions about the specifics of your situation or eviction laws in the state of Missouri, you should contact a legal professional experienced in these issues.
1. A problem occurs during the lease
The eviction process starts with the tenant violating terms in their written lease. A good lease will explain the tenant responsibilities and what measures will be taken if those responsibilities are not fulfilled. If a landlord has a problem with a tenant, but the issue is not lined out in the lease, the eviction process will be more difficult and could take longer.
2. Landlord and tenant try to resolve problem
Before taking anything to court, you can try to resolve any issues you have with your tenant yourself. Since the eviction process can take months and cost you lots in legal fees, it is much cheaper and less stressful to solve problems between you and your tenants yourselves. Also, if you and the tenant can come to an agreement, it will prevent you from needing to find a new tenant as well.
3. Landlord sends eviction notice
Before the eviction can take place, a landlord must send written notice that they will be taking the tenant to court to evict them. In Missouri, the notice should include the problem the tenant is causing (not paying rent, having unauthorized pets, etc) and what the tenant will need to do about it. A landlord should include a deadline in the notice for when the problem needs to be remedied and that the landlord will file in court if the tenant does not fix the issue. For Missouri landlords and tenants, the deadline should be defined in the lease.
4. Landlord files complaint in court
Once the notice is delivered to the tenant, the landlord can file the eviction in court and set up a time to meet in front of a judge. While they wait for the court date, neither the landlord nor tenant can be deprived of "property," meaning that the landlord cannot force the tenant out of the property and the tenant is still responsible for paying rent on time.
5. Landlord and tenant meet in court
An eviction case is similar to a lawsuit. Both sides are heard before the judge and then a decision is made. It is important that the landlord has followed the law up to and past this point. If the landlord did not properly give notice or didn't give a correct deadline for remedy, the tenant may challenge the eviction and the landlord has to start all over.
6. Judge makes decision
If the landlord has done what they were supposed to, according to Missouri state law and the lease, the judge can make one of two choices. Otherwise, they may throw the case out because the landlord did not act appropriately.
Tenant wins and stays
If the judge declares that the tenant wins, the landlord may be required to pay the tenant's court and attorney fees. It depends on what is written in the lease. The tenant will get to stay in their lease and the landlord is expected to treat them as they would any other tenant.
Landlord wins and tenant leaves
If the judge declares the landlord wins, the judge will issue a Warrant of Eviction which legally requires the tenant to leave. If the tenant does not leave voluntarily, law enforcement officers may remove the tenant and their belongings. Also, the tenant may be required to pay landlord's court fees, attorney fees, unpaid rent and damages, depending on what the lease states as well as state laws.
For More Information
If you would like to read more about the eviction process, we recommend this article by legaltemplates.net. It covers the eviction process on a national scale, as well as giving specifics about Missouri laws.
How to Prevent an Eviction
The best way to deal with an eviction is to not have one. The easiest way to prevent an eviction is to have a thorough tenant screening process that will determine if the tenant will be responsible. Finding a good tenant will make your landlord experience more enjoyable. Another way to prevent evictions is to hire a quality property manager that will handle tenant issues for you. Use this guide to make that search much easier.