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What is an unlawful detainer?

As a Missouri landlord, you may occasionally encounter tenants who disobey the rules and do not live up to their obligations. If the violation is serious enough, you have the right to begin the process of eviction. The process starts with a written notice that informs your tenant of the default and gives him or her a reasonable amount of time in which to fix it. Unlawful detainer refers to the act of remaining in possession of the property without fixing the default within the time allotted. In this situation, you may seek assistance from the court to remove your tenant and retake possession of your property. 

According to FindLaw, unlawful detainer action is a process. Before the court can serve your tenant with papers, you must petition the court to do so and submit a small fee for filing purposes. In many cases, the court will then schedule a hearing and allow the tenant the opportunity to present any defenses he or she may have by either attending the hearing in person or submitting a written answer. The court will take any defense that your tenant offers into consideration and make a determination as to whether the eviction is valid. However, if your tenant neither attends the hearing nor submits a written defense, the court will automatically conclude the hearing in your favor. 

If the decision is favorable to you, the court will allow the tenant a few days to move voluntarily from the premises. After that grace period has elapsed, the court will issue a writ of possession allowing law enforcement to remove the tenant from the property. In addition to a writ of possession, the court may also grant you a monetary judgment for legal fees and back rent.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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