Renters could go to jail if they don't pay their rent

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Missouri renters could go to jail - if they don't leave their rented property after a court orders them to do so for not paying rent.

Missouri Senator Kevin Engler, from Farmington, is proposing legislation that would make tenants get charged with a crime, and go to jail for up to 6 months, and pay a $500 dollar fine if they don't pay their rent, a court orders them out, and they aren't gone within ten days.

It's something landlords say would be very helpful.

"If you don't pay the rent that month, then you should not be able to live here," said Perryville Hillcrest Apartment Landlord Karen Teague.

"I think if it did become a crime more people would be responsible with paying rent, or get out on a timely basis," said B&B Rentals Owner Robert Blasiney. "It has became more of a problem with the economy the way it is."

Blasiney says the process of getting someone out, can add up quickly.

"It could probably be about a month from the date you file to the date their out, so you're losing a month's rent," said Blasiney.

"At least $1,000 to redo the flooring, things like that, so yes, we're out thousands of dollars," said Teague.

It's a loss, that someone has to pay for.

"The more you have to raise rent and it's not fair to the people that do pay on a timely basis," said Blasiney.

"It would help us by getting the people out, I just don't think that, if they haven't paid their rent, why should they be able to stay in that apartment," said Teague."I would think that would help because maybe people will take it more seriously, you know just like with drugs or anything else that's a crime, you know maybe they would think before they didn't pay their rent."

Both Teague and Blasiney say they do background checks on potential tenants. They say this can help since the crime would show up on a criminal record.

"If it was a crime then, maybe it would prevent them from renting from anybody else," said Teague.

"To allow them to stay in the property more time after it's been declared your property it's a crime in its self, and that 5 days adds up to money," said Blasiney.

"They want their money, and if they're not getting their money from that person, then they should be able to get their property back and be able to rent it to someone that will pay the rent," said Teague.

You can view SB 804 here.

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