Started Pro Se eviction on Rent-to-Own home; any help?

7 Replies

We did a Rent to own on our house in Missouri with our daughter and fiance in March 2014. They married later, daughter moved out Jan 2018, then divorced finalized April 2018. 

Fast forward to wanting to evict ex son in law now. Rent to own agreement states rent due by the 1st of every month. It also states that they are responsible for all upkeep, maintenance, and repairs of the property. In 2016 the central air quit (I told them prior to agreement that it was serviced in 2013 and needed to be replaced soon). They installed a large window unit until could save money to replace. Then Sep 2017 the furnace quit and still didn't have money to replace. Again, were saving money and 2018 tax refund split between them $3K each and he was going to replace furnace then and AC before summer. This past Sep 2018 (1yr) later still nothing done plus storm damage done Aug 2018 insurance estimate just over $11K but $2K deductible. Son in law refused paying deductible. I sent 10 day notice to cure or quit and signed for by ex. He did replace furnace but said he does not have to pay $2K ins deductible and he will get the AC unit replaced whenever he can afford it. 

In January 2019 we posted 30 day notice to terminate tenancy (no communication from him and won't answer door). He evidently blocked my phone # so yesterday I called his work and left message for return call urgent matter. He called me and said he will not vacate as he has done nothing wrong and I can try to evict him if I want but doubts that I can. 

He has paid rent chronically late and refuses to pay me but pays direct to Bank of America. 

To make matters worse, in August 2018 while he was trying to contract repairs he wanted to have contractor make dummy bill for a lot higher than cost to have work done so he would not have to pay deductible and would have enough to replace furnace and AC unit. He even suggested I tell ins co that I need more money. That's when I began tape recording our conversations and told him I would not have anything to do with defrauding the ins co. He also sent me a text that he wanted to pocket the money. 

I then took over contacting contractor and have on tape with contractor that tenant told him he wanted to be billed more than what he would be paid. The contractor was instructed by me to replace roof with same type and color of shingles. However, the contractor would not do the work because tenant was harassing the contractor with phone calls and texts that the tenant wants different color shingles because he will be owning the house soon.

The tenant has an attorney but I feel that we should prevail. However, if the tenant wants a jury trial can he request that before the judge even hears my complaint and reasons for wanting to evict? I live in AZ and the house is in MO. I am going to travel to MO to file the complaint for court order eviction. I cannot afford to just hang out in MO awaiting a trial to take place. The only place I have to live is in my house, which the tenant is occupying.

Sorry this is such a long post. Any suggestions or ideas would be very much appreciated.

I also sent a 10 day unlawful detainer certified mail today.

If you have 11k in storm damage and insurance is only in their name, I would offer to pay the 2k deductible to have insurance pay for the repairs.

First, I am so sorry that you have had to go through this. Evictions are stressful under any circumstances, and this sounds just awful!

I would STRONGLY recommend hiring a lawyer, especially since your tenant already has one. They will be able to represent you at court for the unimportant parts and keep your visits to a minimum (maybe even zero). I am inclined to think that you will get your house back (even if it might take a little time and cost a little money), but evictions usually have to be done in just the right way and a lawyer will be able to guide you through the process with a minimum of fuss.

Best of luck!

The homeowner insurance is in our names not the tenants. The tenant agreed to pay the deductible as part of home repairs but he didn't have the money and he was going to have to borrow it. I gave him until 9/28/18 (storm damage was Aug 16). I think that is the reason he was trying to get a contractor to submit a higher amount on itemized bill so it would cover deductible plus he would pocket the test (supposedly for furnace and AC).

I received an insurance check for 70% of estimate less also $2K. I had another contractor do the siding, garage and window trim, storm door and exterior light fixture replacements, seal, caulk, and repaint. I paid the roofing contractor half up front but he returned it because he will not go do the work with this volatile tenant in place. He is concerned of confrontation and sabotaging tools and equipment for a 2 day job.

My main concern is can a tenant request jury trial instead of attending the court hearing?


Thank you, Robert. I have an appt in Missouri with an attorney when I get into town. We are in chapter 13 bankruptcy in AZ for 2 years now and didn't go chapter 7 because of our daughter and losing the house. But then she left and we are here dealing with her ex. Our payment plan is completed in 3 more years. Our AZ bkr attorney has strongly suggested we surrender the property deed in lieu of foreclosure, which we have done. The bank can be left to evict tenant, but we are liable for any damages, real estate taxes, insurance, vandalism, yard maintenance until foreclosure, according to our attorney. With the tenant being such a loose cannon, we prefer to get him out and move back in to keep up the above requirements until the foreclosure sale. But I can't afford dealing with legal expense of a trial.

I guess if all else fails and the tenant requests a jury trial I will deal with it using an attorney if not too expensive or pro se myself. If I lose the trial verfict it will be the bank's problem to get him out. Any damages I won't know about because the tenant refuses all contact with me, the landlord.

@Margaret Apel this seems like a bad situation, but you just have to take it one step at a time. If the property is in St. Louis County or City there's a flat fee eviction lawyer I can recommend, $400. If not, I'm sure others on here can point you in the right direction. 

As for jury trial, while he can ask for a jury trial thanks to a MO Supreme Court ruling from a few years ago, should that happen you can request a summary judgement. If your case and evidence (and lawyer) is strong enough, a summary judgement could be a slam dunk, and it bypasses the jury trial. 

Good luck!

Thanks, Donald S, for the info. It is Randolph County in Missouri in case anyone knows of a good attorney. I have been communicating with a Rental Property Owners Management Association (local) and they have been helping me with forms and advice. The one thing that the president of association told me was the local lawyers are inept and charge horrific fees, by the hour and no flat rate fees, especially if contested case. When I made the appt with a local lawyer I couldn't even find out what the initial consultation will cost me. The secretary said "it depends." Very vague when I asked worse case scenario cost for consultation or charge per hour of the lawyer's time, still no answer. Supposedly this is the only lawyer in town that handles eviction cases other than one firm that I am pretty sure the tenant is using.