This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Dec 9th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.
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.
Yes, Missouri renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may have been protected from eviction, but now that those protections are over, you may be sued and you still owe all your rent.
If you cannot pay rent, you should take steps to protect yourself:
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.
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.
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.
However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Yes, Missouri courts are holding eviction cases. Some courts that are open are holding remote proceedings, not in-person.
Check with the Missouri state courts for more information.
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?
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)
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Missouri, your landlord does not have to give you a notice prior to suing you for rent and possession. The landlord may sue you for not paying your rent (and other debts you may owe). Landlords can also sue to evict for other reasons, besides non-payment of rent. Each type of lawsuit will have different rules.
There are two types of eviction lawsuits in Missouri.
You must be served a summons and the petition in order for the court to have the power to enter a judgment against you and an eviction. The service of the summons and petition may be personal (to you or to someone who lives with you over the age of 15) or by posting. For posting, the landlord may post and mail the summons and petition to you.
Reach out for legal help if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
A verbal demand to leave is not a legal way to evict you from the premises. In order to have the power to evict you, a landlord must obtain an order from the court to evict you.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
If you get a notice, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and you might be able to stop the eviction from moving forward.
Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.
If you get a notice, it should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Missouri, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
In Missouri, you are not required to respond in writing to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction. If the landlord cannot prove you owe rent, the landlord may not win its case. But it is safer for you to assert defenses in writing, in order for the court to consider them during a trial. Failing to preserve defenses in writing will make you lose the right to assert them.
You are allowed to file a “counterclaim” to assert any claims you have against the landlord.
You will have an eviction hearing automatically scheduled at court. You must appear there if you want to defend yourself against the eviction. But you do not have to submit anything to the court or your landlord before this hearing. If the tenant does not show up to court on the court date, the landlord will win by default.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
You may decide to negotiate a settlement. If you do, the agreement should be in writing, with all terms included and dated and signed by all parties. You should understand whether or not the case will be dismissed without a judgment against you. If not, you may want to go to court on the hearing date to be sure the settlement is made clear to the court.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Find legal groups that can help you with housing problems, landlords, roommates, Section 8, domestic violence, discrimination, and more.Find Legal Services
Find groups that can help you pay the rent, cover utility costs, and get other housing-related assistance.Find Financial Help
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State 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
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