Missouri Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know in 2024

Ballinger News Staff

Missouri Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know in 2024

The cost of living has been steadily rising across the United States, with housing often leading the charge. According to a Pew Research Center report, a staggering 60% of renters nationwide struggle to afford their monthly rent. This financial strain is forcing many to cut back on essential expenses or even face eviction.

Missouri, unfortunately, is no exception to this national trend. While the state boasts a relatively lower cost of living compared to the coasts, recent years have seen rent prices climb in major cities like Kansas City and St. Louis. This increase can be particularly burdensome for tenants, especially those on fixed incomes.

Unlike some states that have implemented rent control measures, Missouri has no such protections in place at the state level. This means landlords have a significant amount of freedom to set and increase rent prices. However, this doesn’t mean tenants are completely powerless. Understanding the legal landscape and their rights can empower Missouri renters to navigate rent increases effectively.

Understanding Rent Control

Rent control is a policy implemented by some local governments that limits the amount landlords can raise rent prices each year. Proponents of rent control argue that it helps stabilize housing costs, making it easier for low- and middle-income residents to afford decent housing. Opponents, on the other hand, claim that rent control disincentivizes landlords from properly maintaining rental properties and can ultimately lead to a decrease in available housing units.

The debate surrounding rent control is complex and often hotly contested. While it may offer some relief to tenants facing rising rents, it’s not a perfect solution. It’s important to be aware of both the potential benefits and drawbacks of rent control policies.

Rent Increase Landscape in Missouri

As mentioned earlier, Missouri has no statewide rent control laws. This gives landlords considerable leeway in determining how much they charge for rent and by how much they can increase it. Landlords are expected to operate within reason, but there’s no legal cap on rent hikes.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope for tenants in some Missouri cities. While rare, some municipalities have enacted local rent control ordinances. Columbia, Missouri, for example, passed a rent stabilization ordinance in 2021 that ties allowable rent increases to the inflation rate. This provides some protection for tenants in Columbia from excessive rent hikes.

It’s important for Missouri tenants to check with their local government to see if any rent control measures are in place in their city or county. Even in the absence of local rent control, understanding the state’s general legal framework regarding rent increases is crucial.

Notice Requirements for Rent Increases

In Missouri, the amount of notice a landlord must provide before increasing rent depends on the type of tenancy agreement. For month-to-month leases, which are the most common type of rental agreement in Missouri, landlords are required to give tenants at least one full rental period plus one day’s written notice before raising the rent.

For example, if a tenant pays rent on the first of every month, the landlord would need to provide a written notice by July 1st to increase the rent for August 1st. This notice period allows tenants time to prepare for the increased cost or explore alternative housing options if necessary.

Fixed-Term Leases and Rent Increases

For fixed-term leases, which typically run for six months or a year, the situation regarding rent increases is a bit different. The lease agreement itself dictates whether and how much the rent can be increased upon renewal. If the lease specifies a rent increase for the renewal period, the landlord is bound by those terms, and the tenant has agreed to them by signing the lease.

However, if the lease is silent on rent increases, the landlord cannot raise the rent during the fixed term. Once the lease expires, they can propose a new rent price, but they must adhere to the standard notice period (one rental period + one day) for month-to-month tenancies.

Tenant Protections During Rent Increases

Even though Missouri lacks rent control laws, tenants do have some protections during rent increases. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Right to a Habitable Living Environment: Regardless of rent increases, landlords have a legal obligation to maintain a habitable living environment for their tenants. This includes ensuring the property is safe, sanitary, and in good repair. Tenants facing rent increases should not be pressured to accept substandard living conditions.
  • Potential Recourse for Unreasonable Rent Hikes: While there’s no legal limit on rent increases, excessively high rent hikes can be challenged in court. If a tenant believes a rent increase is unreasonable or retaliatory (meaning the landlord is punishing the tenant for exercising their rights), they may consult with an attorney to explore legal options.

Strategies for Tenants Facing Rent Increases

Facing a rent increase can be stressful, but there are steps tenants can take to manage the situation effectively:

  • Open Communication with the Landlord: The first step should always be open communication with the landlord. Tenants can inquire about the reason for the rent increase and attempt to negotiate a lower increase or a longer lease term with a smaller rent increase at renewal.
  • Researching Fair Market Rent Prices: Staying informed about fair market rent prices in the area is crucial. Tenants can utilize rental listing websites, surveys, or consult with local housing agencies to get a sense of what comparable properties are renting for. This information can be valuable leverage during negotiations with the landlord.
  • Negotiating: Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your landlord. Present your research on fair market rent prices and be prepared to propose a counteroffer. Highlighting your history as a reliable tenant who pays rent on time and takes good care of the property can also strengthen your negotiating position.
  • Exploring Other Rental Options: If negotiations fail and the rent increase is simply too high, tenants may need to explore other rental options. This can be a challenging process, especially in tight housing markets. However, starting the search early and being realistic about budget limitations can help ease the transition.

Resources for Missouri Tenants

Navigating rent increases and understanding tenant rights can be complex. Here are some resources that can be helpful for Missouri tenants:

  • Missouri Attorney General’s Office: The Missouri Attorney General’s Office website provides information on landlord-tenant laws, including a helpful brochure on tenant rights. https://ago.mo.gov/
  • Local Tenant Advocacy Groups: Many Missouri cities and counties have local tenant advocacy groups that offer resources, education, and sometimes even legal representation to tenants facing challenges with their landlords. A quick online search can help locate these organizations in your area.


The lack of rent control laws in Missouri places a significant burden on tenants facing rent increases. However, by understanding their rights, communicating effectively with their landlords, and utilizing available resources, Missouri tenants can navigate rent increases more effectively. Remember, knowledge is power. By staying informed and taking proactive steps, tenants can protect their financial well-being and ensure they remain housed in safe and decent living conditions.


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