For Immediate Release:
May 14, 2014

Contact: Kyle Aubuchon/Courtney Lauer
(573) 751-4843

Legislation Sponsored by Sen. Libla
Added to a Bill Moving to the Governor

Act allows landlords to recover from damages caused by tenants

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation recently passed by the Legislature and on its way to the governor includes an important act sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. House Bill 1410 removes the “claim of right” defense for tenants who willfully cause damage to rental property, a provision found earlier in Sen. Libla’s Senate Bill 911.

“Landlords have a difficult time recovering losses from tenants who damage rental property while living in the space,” said Sen. Libla. “Currently, the only way for these landlords to recover monetary values for damaged property is to bring civil suits against the tenants as long as the lease has a provision stating the tenants are responsible for the damage beyond normal ‘wear and tear.’”

Sen. Libla continued, “Law enforcement indicates they have been reluctant to investigate and write police reports for property crimes committed by tenants under the belief that tenants will not be convicted because of the ‘claim of right’ defense.”

Senate Bill 911 clarified that this defense does not apply to tenants who willfully damage property, providing clarity for police to investigate tenants for such property crimes against landlords. While leading his measure through the legislative process, Sen. Libla shared how landlords in his district had difficulty with tenants who did not respect their rental property by causing thousands of dollars of damage. Most importantly, he stressed how this damage increases the rent for many other families. The more money it takes to repair the damages, the more money landlords need to recoup their costs. Sen. Libla’s legislation seeks to put an end to this burdensome and costly cycle.

House Bill 1410 also includes provisions that would remove the option for a trial de novo — a retrial in a district court that is conducted as if no trial had occurred in the lower court — in landlord-tenant actions, update the definition of “lessee” by restricting it to only individuals who have leased the premises and are obligated to pay rent, and give tenants 24 hours to vacate the premises following a court-ordered immediate eviction.

If signed into law, the legislation would take effect Aug. 28, 2014. To read more about this and other measures sponsored by Sen. Libla, visit

Senator Doug Libla services the citizens of Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Shannon and Stoddard counties in the Missouri Senate.