A Missouri commercial lease agreement is important if you are leasing a commercial property in the state. This document outlines the terms and conditions of a lease agreement.

Missouri Rental Laws

Understanding the landlord-tenant laws in Missouri will help commercial property managers and landlords prevent problems in the future. Unfortunately, Missouri does not have a codified or comprehensive act or group of rules that outlines how landlords and tenants must legally interact with one another. Many other states do have these laws in place. The roots of the laws between landlords and tenants in Missouri come from medieval English rules and cases determined by the courts in the past few centuries.

Some statutes do exist in the Missouri state laws that outline issues between landlords and tenants. The majority of these are included in three chapters of the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo.) The first is chapter 441, called "Landlord and Tenant.” It includes details about several key matters between landlords and tenants:

  • Expedited evictions (added in 1997)
  • Provisions around leases and terms
  • Heat-related utility service maintenance
  • Charging double the rent after the tenant's contract expires
  • Deficient and inadequate housing
  • Personal property that has been abandoned (added in 1997)
  • The right of the tenant to make repairs and deduct costs from the rent (added in 1997).

In chapter 534 of the RSMo., you can learn more about evicting tenants who remain after their leases have expired or breach the terms of a lease agreement. This section is titled “Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer," and it allows for tenants to take legal action against their landlords for wrongful eviction, as well as by landlords against their tenants for unlawful detainer or breach of contract.

The third chapter in the RSMo. is chapter 535, called "Landlord-Tenant Actions." This section outlines the provisions that deal with:

  • Security deposits
  • Rent and possession procedures
  • Disclosures a landlord must make to a tenant.

Security Deposit

A landlord will often charge a security deposit to protect his or her interest in the property. In Missouri, a security deposit cannot be more than the cost of two months' worth of rent. This maximum is outlined in §§ 535.300(1). In §§ 535.300(2), any potential interest on a tenant's security deposit is further clarified. This interest remains in the possession of the landlord.

A landlord should have a separate bank account for security deposits, as the funds paid for security deposits should not be comingled with any other funds. In section 339.105, you can learn more about what funds can be comingled. However, any security deposit a tenant pays should be held in the landlord's trust and deposited in some type of financial institution, such as a credit union or bank, in the trustee's name. If the tenant is to receive any portion of the security deposit back, it must be returned within 30 days of the lease termination date.

Allowed Uses of a Deposit

A landlord may use the security deposit for several reasons:

  • For compensation for damages resulting from the tenant's failure to provide sufficient notice to end the lease agreement. To use a deposit for this reason, a landlord must make a reasonable effort to mitigate these damages.
  • For payment of the rent due.

A landlord must provide a written description, including an itemized list, of the damages and how the deposit was spent, according to §§ 535.300(2)(2). If a landlord fails to comply with the laws around security deposits and withholds the funds unlawfully from the tenant, then the tenant can take legal action and recover up to double the amount that was wrongfully withheld.

Lease, Rent, and Fees

For a commercial lease agreement, the rent is due on the date stated in the terms. If the landlord fails to provide essential services, such as heat or water, the tenant is not legally allowed to withhold rent. However, if this situation does arise, and the utility service company has notified the tenants in a multi-tenant building that has a master meter, the tenant may petition the circuit court's associate division for receivership of the property. This allowance is outlined further in §§ 441.650.

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