One of the most common questions that I am asked while meeting with a landlord who is having to deal with the eviction of a tenant for the first time is whether the landlord can change the locks. Although there may be several reasons why a landlord may want to get rid of a tenant, the most common reasons are when the tenant fails to pay rent, breaches the terms of the lease, or is otherwise causing damage or waste to the property. Because the tenant has not lived up to their promises, landlords often desire to take matters into their own hands by changing the locks and removing the tenants from the premises.
Not only is changing the locks a bad idea, this could result in the landlord being liable to the tenant for damages. Changing the locks without a court order may result in the landlord being guilty of forcible entry and detainer under 534 RSMo. and subject the landlord to monetary damages. Therefore, instead of making a bad situation worse, landlords should contact an experienced attorney to review the facts of their case and determine the best course of conduct for the landlord to legally remove the tenant. Because these cases are time sensitive, meeting with an attorney as early as possible in the process is crucial to ensure that the necessary legal steps can be taken to quickly have the tenant removed. Failing to act quickly delays the process and can be costly to the landlord.
Therefore, if you are a landlord who is having problems with a tenant, instead of taking matters into your own hands, we suggest you contact the Thurman Law Firm and speak with one of our experienced attorneys and let us guide you through the process of lawfully evicting an unwanted tenant.