COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 3, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerSupreme Court of Missouri order on in-person proceedingsMissouri Legal ServicesMissouri Courts

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Missouri
Are there any special protections for renters during the emergency? How long do they last?

No, there are no statewide Missouri protections for renters during the emergency.

You may be covered by national protections that last through July 2020, or by your local county or city protections.

Some Missouri courts have issued special orders related to filing, serving, or obtaining judgments in eviction lawsuits. See if your county court has an order here. Check with your local government to see if they have adopted local rules suspending evictions, stopped utility shutoffs, or have other protections for renters.

What do the protections mean for renters?

The lack of statewide protections means that during the COVID-19 emergency in Missouri (unless your local government has additional protections for you):

  1. Your landlord can still give you a notice to vacate, unless you live in a property that is covered by national protections under the CARES Act.
  2. Your landlord can still file an eviction claim in court against you, unless you live in a property that is covered by national protections under the CARES Act.
  3. Although many courts have suspended hearings, including those for evictions. You should check with your local court about whether it is still hearing eviction cases.
  4. While courts may issue a new order, judgement, or writ of eviction against you, an existing eviction order may not be enforced against you if you can show a COVID-19 hardship.
Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Missouri renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, you should take steps to protect yourself:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain that you cannot pay the rent because of a COVID-19 impact and describe what that reason is (for example, your place of employment closed because of the pandemic). You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan to allow you to pay rent over an extended period of time or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from your landlord. Get and keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure you get it in writing and that both you and your landlord sign the agreement.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me during the COVID-19 emergency?

Yes, most Missouri renters can be evicted from their homes during the emergency period, unless the national protections apply to you. It is possible that some local governments may have suspended evictions.

There is no statewide special protection against eviction.

You may be covered by national protections, or by your local county or city. Read below to see if you are eligible for national protections.

Some Missouri city or county governments may have suspended eviction enforcements. Be sure to check if your local government has any special rules to protect you.

If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?

Some Missouri renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.

Some Missouri utility companies are stopping all shutoffs during the emergency. Some cities have ordered that no resident’s utilities can be shutoff for nonpayment. Check with your local government or utility provider.

Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court?

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