Make sure everything is repaired before you sign the lease or
move in. If you must move in before the repairs are completed, have the landlord put in
writing that he/she will complete the repairs within a certain time.
Get the Details
Find out who is responsible for utilities.
Get the name, address and phone number of who you should
contact if you have a problem.
Do not make any false statements to the landlord in your
application to rent the property. This may be a violation of the law and cause you further
problems if you have a dispute with the landlord.
Before you sign a lease, read it carefully. Make sure the
lease says what you have agreed to. If not, do not sign it.
Always keep a copy of your lease.
It is against the law for a landlord to refuse to rent to you
or evict you because of your race, sex, religion, family status, nationality or a
disabling condition, (or in Kansas City, because of your sexual preference). If this
happens to you, consult a lawyer immediately. There are time deadlines to file claims.
If you have low income, are elderly or disabled, you may be
eligible for rental assistance. Contact your local housing authority or information
center. In Kansas City, Missouri, contact the Kansas City Housing Authority at 968-4100.
You may also contact the Missouri Housing Development Commission at 759-6600 for
Generally, you must repair damages that you or your guests
have caused to the property. Your landlord must make repairs that are required by local
housing and building codes or repairs required by your lease.
If the property is unsafe, unlivable, or in bad repair, you
Request in writing that your landlord make the repairs. Send
your notice by certified mail so you have proof that the notice was received, and keep a
Call your local housing or building code department. In
Kansas City call Neighborhood Preservation at 513-9000. Request an inspection if your
landlord does not make the needed repairs.
If the property is unsafe or unsanitary due to major housing
code violations and your landlord fails to correct the defects, keep in mind that the City
may condemn the property and you will have to move out.
Two other options are available to force a landlord to make
necessary repairs. You may be able to make repairs, then deduct the cost from your rent.
In some cases you can file a lawsuit against your landlord and pay rent to the Court. You
should not attempt to do either, unless you first get the advice of a lawyer to make sure
you follow the required procedures. Otherwise, your landlord may try to evict you for
failure to pay your rent.
If you or your landlord want to end the lease, proper notice
must be given. If you have a written lease, check it to see what you must do. If
your lease is not up, you must follow the notice requirements in your lease.
If you have no lease, or the lease does not discuss notice,
you must generally give at least one month's written notice before ending a month-to-month
lease. (For example, if your rent is due May 1, and you want to end the agreement on May
31, your written notice must be received by the landlord on or before May 1.)
If you do not give proper notice, then you may be
responsible for rent even after you move. If your landlord does not give
you proper notice, you may not be required to move until one month after the proper notice
is given. Remember, you must pay rent until you have moved out all of your
possessions and returned your keys.
To legally evict you, your landlord must file a lawsuit in
court. If sued, you should receive a Petition and Summons, telling you when and where to
appear in court, and what your landlord is demanding. Do not ignore the lawsuit. If
you do nothing, a default judgment may be entered against you.
Usually the judge will hear your case on the first court date
and not continue it. If you have a claim against your landlord, you must file it in
writing with the court by the court date.
If the summons was only posted on your property (not
hand-delivered to you or your family by a process server), your landlord may only be able
to get a judgment for "possession," but no rent. Possession means
possession of the apartment or house, not your property.
Contact an attorney as soon as you are sued or notified that
your landlord plans to evict you.
A landlord is prohibited from illegally evicting you without
a court order, i.e., by locking you out, removing doors to your home, shutting off
your utilities, or removing you or your property. You should call your local police
or city officials if this happens. In Kansas City, immediately call the Office of
Community Relations (513-1836), the Police Department (911), or Neighborhood Preservation
(513-9000 for utility shut-offs only). You should also consult a lawyer regarding
filing a lawsuit.
If you owe rent, your landlord can sue you for all rent due,
possession of the rental property, and court costs. If you cannot pay the rent due
plus court costs by the court date, and have no defenses to the lawsuit, the judge can
enter a judgment against you. (Not having the money to pay is not a defense.) If you
lose, you must move out within 10 days, or you and your possessions may be physically
If you owe rent, but you pay all the rent due plus the court
costs by the court date, the case should be dismissed. You should make sure this
case is dismissed on the court date. Some landlords may simply tell a tenant
"dont worry about it." Contact the court and make sure the case has
been dismissed if you have paid all of the rent.
To appeal a court judgment, you should consult an attorney
immediately regarding your rights. Appeals must generally be filed within 10 days, so you
should consult a lawyer quickly.
If your landlord gives you a proper written notice to move
but you do not move out, your landlord can evict you by filing an unlawful detainer
lawsuit. If your landlord wins, the judge may order you to move from the property,
and may order you to pay double rent for the time you stayed after the
date you were supposed to move out, plus court costs. If you win, you can stay and
continue to pay rent until the end of your lease or the landlord gives you proper notice.