The Missouri House recently passed a bill banning local governments from issuing eviction moratoriums. The legislation comes three years following a Jackson County Circuit Court order that temporarily stopped eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A historical “pause”
March of 2020 saw Jackson County Circuit Court temporarily halting issuing writs to evict tenants for two months during the height of the health crisis. The court claimed that the move protected the health of court staff and the public.
St. Louis Circuit Court also ceased eviction proceedings, starting in the middle of March 2020 and lasting through mid-March 2020 to July of the same year. The St. Louis City Council enacted a 15-day eviction moratorium in December 2021.
A long-awaited solution for landlords
Backed by realty and landlord groups, the bill, passing 104 to 42, would ban local and county governments from allowing or enforcing eviction moratoriums. Landlords and realty groups support the measure that would stop county and local governments from forcing or administering a moratorium on eviction proceedings unless state law approves.
In addition, local governments cannot force property owners to inspect a home prior to a property sale.
Current eviction filings in Missouri have increased since the start of 2023. Also increasing is the average rent. A one-bedroom apartment has grown 18 percent, according to the U.S. News and World Report.
Opposition claims callousness
Opponents referred to the bill as “callous,” putting profits before lives when it comes to forcing out tenants while limiting rent revenue for landlords. Detractors also claim that limitations would be placed on any local government in Missouri to appropriately respond to another coronavirus-type health emergency.
Few professions were harder hit than residential property owners in the business of renting to tenants. Long-awaited enactment of legislation can make their jobs easier and businesses more profitable.