As a Missouri landlord, you aren’t obliged to collect a security deposit, but you have a right to collect one if you choose. When collecting a security deposit, you must follow certain rules.
In this post, we’re providing a basic overview of the Missouri security deposit laws.
Whether you’re just starting out as a landlord, or are simply looking to learn more, the following information should help you understand the law.
How Much is the Security Deposit Limit in Missouri?
As a Missouri landlord, you can’t charge your tenant more than 2X the rent amount.
So, if you’re renting out your property for $1,000, the most you can collect from your renter as security deposit is $2,000.
Can you Charge Nonrefundable Security Deposits in Missouri?
While some states allow this, Missouri doesn’t. In Missouri, security deposits are always deemed to be the tenant’s property. As such, you must return them back once the term of the lease comes to an end.
That said, landlords have a right to make appropriate deductions from a tenant’s deposit under certain circumstances.
You can deduct from a tenant’s security deposit for the following reasons:
- Clear unpaid utilities. Tenants must clear their utility bills before moving out of their rented premises. If a tenant doesn’t, you can deduct the appropriate costs from their security deposit.
- Make repairs. If the tenant causes property damage due to their negligence or carelessness, you can use their deposit to cover the repair costs.
- Cover unpaid rent after a tenant breaks their lease. Once a tenant signs their lease, they become contractually obligated to pay all rent due under that lease. Unless their reason for moving out is legally justified under Missouri tenancy laws, you can use their deposit to cover for unpaid rent.
Do Landlords Have to Store their Tenant’s Deposit in a Particular Way?
The Missouri law doesn’t require landlords to store their tenants’ deposits in any particular way.
Do Missouri Landlords Have to Provide their Tenants with a Receipt?
No. Once you receive your tenant’s deposit, you are under no obligation to notify them in writing. That said, most landlords still do it anyway to avoid potential future conflict.
In the notice, you can provide your tenant with the following information:
- Amount of security deposit collected
- Date you collected the security deposit
- Rules that a tenant must abide by regarding security deposits, such as reasons and procedures for return
Do Tenants in Missouri Have a Right to a Walk-Through Inspection?
Yes. Tenants in Missouri have a right to be present during the walk-through inspection. Walk-through inspections help determine whether a tenant has done damage to the unit.
If there is no damage exceeding normal wear and tear and the tenant hasn’t violated any other lease term, you must return their security deposit in full.
However, if they’ve caused property damage, you may have a right to make appropriate deductions from their deposit.
What Must you do if you Decide to Sell the Property?
In Missouri, if you sell your property, you have two options:
- Return the deposit to the tenant, less any appropriate deductions.
- Transfer the deposit to the incoming owner. The new owner will then be responsible for the tenant’s security deposit. The incoming owner must also notify tenants in writing that the property has been sold.
When Should a Landlord Return a Tenant’s Security Deposit?
Once a tenant has moved out, you have 30 days to return their deposit by mail to the tenant’s last known address.
If you haven’t made any deductions, then you will return it in full.
When only returning a part of the deposit, you must notify the tenant of any deductions made to the deposit.
What Happens if you Wrongfully Withhold a Tenant’s Security Deposit?
Withholding a tenant’s deposit for the wrong reasons can get you in legal trouble. And if found guilty, you may be liable for paying the tenant double the wrongfully withheld amount, plus court and attorney fees.
What is Considered Property Damage?
As already mentioned, you may be able to withhold part or all your tenant’s deposit if they cause excessive property damage.
Here are some things that are considered property damage:
- Excessive mildew and mold in bathroom
- Flea and pest extermination
- Broken or missing window blinds
- Clogged drains from misuse or negligence
- Excessive filth in over or on stove by burners
- Appliances broken by negligence
- Broken windows and window screens
- Tears, holes or burn marks in carpets or curtains
However, if the damage results from normal wear and tear, then you must not deduct from your tenant’s deposit.
The Missouri security deposit laws are part of the statewide landlord-tenant laws. Understanding them is crucial. If you don’t follow Missouri’s rules, you risk facing legal trouble.
We hope this post was helpful.
For more information, please contact St. Louis Property Management.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for expert advice, it’s only intended to act as educational material. For expert help, kindly hire a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.