Leases

Notice: A City of Columbia ordinance requires landlords and property managers to notify tenants of the zoning district in which the rental unit is located and the occupancy limit under the Columbia zoning ordinance. More information below.

The first line of defense in dealing with problem tenants is having a good written lease. While it is possible to have oral leases of residential units, written leases almost always provide superior protections for landlords. Scott Law Firm will provide a package containing a lease and related forms upon a landlord’s request. The fees below allow unlimited use of the forms by the purchaser and updates upon request.

  • Leasing forms are provided in paper format only for a flat fee of $120.00.
  • Leasing forms are provided in electronic format for a flat fee of $140.00. (If leasing forms are ordered in electronic format, the forms are usually emailed to the client but can be provided on a CD upon request.)

Landlords or property managers who desire to review our leasing forms before deciding whether to purchase them may review them on paper at our office.

For new clients, pre-payment for leasing forms is generally required. We accept payment by credit card – call us at 573-442-7268 to arrange a credit card payment. Existing clients with good payment histories will be billed for leasing forms.

All of the leasing forms we provide except the lead-paint documents are copyrighted by Scott Law Firm. Clients and their employees may use and modify our forms for use with their own properties or properties they manage for others, but may not give or sell our forms to anyone else.

Our leasing forms have been developed over a period of many years to comply with Missouri law based on our experience in handling an average of 600-700 landlord cases per year.

Note: We do not recommend using leasing forms purchased at office supply stores or online. Such forms are very generic, most do not comply with Missouri law, and most do not include important protections for landlords that we incorporate into our forms.

Forms included in our package include:

  • Rental Application
  • Resources for Background Checks
  • Statement of Credit Denial
  • Residential Lease
  • Animal Agreement
  • Sublease Agreement
  • Guarantee of Lease
  • Lease Renewal
  • Notice of Non-Renewal of Lease
  • Lead Paint Disclosure
  • Lead Paint Pamphlet
  • Security Deposit Guidelines
  • Security Deposit Inspection Notice
  • Security Deposit Statement

We can also provide the following additional lease forms for an additional fee:

  • Commercial lease
  • Mobile home lease
  • Mobile home lot lease (where the tenant owns the mobile home and only rents the lot)

If you do not elect to use Scott Law Firm’s leasing forms. you should review the lease forms you now use to ensure that your leases include the following minimum points, most of which cannot be adequately addressed in an oral lease:

  • Identity of landlord or agent
  • Identity of tenant(s) (make clear multiple tenants are “jointly and severally liable”)
  • Identification of premises leased and items included such as appliances and furnishings, storage space, parking space, etc.
  • Beginning and ending dates
  • Amount of rent and due date (add late charges and bad check charges if desired)
  • Location where rent must be paid
  • Amount of security deposit, if any
  • Inspection of premises by tenant with notation of existing damage
  • Who is permitted to occupy premises
  • Permitted activities (residential use only? business activities allowed?)
  • Responsibility for utility payments and trash collection
  • Responsibility for maintenance, repairs and cleaning
  • Prohibit alterations without landlord’s consent
  • Prohibit assignment or subleasing without landlord’s consent
  • Non-liability and indemnification of landlord for injuries to tenants and tenants’ property
  • Provisions for termination of tenancy
  • Payment of attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and court costs (IMPORTANT NOTE: You will not be able to obtain a judgment for attorney’s fees and litigation expenses if you do not have a clause in a written lease requiring the tenant to pay them.)
  • All amounts owed under lease, including payments by landlord for tenant, are “additional rent” – this may allow remedies the same as for non-payment of rent
  • Incorporate rules and regulations and lease application.
  • Waive common-law notice requirements for forfeiture
  • Waive jury trial and establish venue (court location) for lawsuits. (NOTE: Attention to a jury waiver provision should be called out in prominent large type adjacent to the signature area on the lease to ensure it is enforceable.)

City of Columbia Occupancy Limit Notice

In 2013 the Columbia City Council adopted an ordinance requiring landlords and property managers to notify tenants of the zoning district in which the rental unit is located and the applicable occupancy limit under the city’s zoning ordinance. The notice can be contained in the lease or in a separate occupancy limit disclosure form.

If there is an over-occupancy complaint, or the city is investigating any other potential code violation, the ordinance also requires landlords and property managers to produce to the investigating police officer or city inspector within seven days of request the following:

  • The rental unit’s Certificate of Compliance with the Rental Housing Code.
  • The notice of occupancy limitations signed by all lessees and sublessees, which can either be part of the lease or in the separate occupancy limit disclosure form.

Landlords and property managers using older versions of the Scott Law Firm lease form are advised to incorporate the following new paragraph 4 into the lease (after paragraph 3 which identifies the leased premises):

4. ZONING DISTRICT AND OCCUPANCY LIMIT: Lessee understands that the premises are located in the ___ zoning district and agrees that: (a) the maximum number of unrelated persons who may occupy the premises is ___, and (b) related occupants must be in compliance with the definition of a “family” contained in Section 29-2 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Columbia, Missouri.

Note: This language has already been incorporated into the current Scott Law Firm lease form.

We recommend that landlords and property managers not using the Scott Law Firm lease form incorporate similar language in their leases.

We believe it is preferable to incorporate the occupancy limit notice into written leases instead of using the city-provided occupancy limit notice form because the city’s form requests the tenant’s phone numbers and email addresses – although the form states that providing phone numbers and email addresses is optional. Many tenants regard their phone numbers and email addresses as private information, and the form’s notation that this information is optional is easy to overlook.

It will be necessary for landlords to use the city’s occupancy limit notice form if they enter into oral leases with tenants.

It is permissible for a lease to restrict the number of unrelated occupants of a rental unit to fewer than allowed by the zoning ordinance. To do so, add one of the following sentences at the end of the recommended new paragraph above:

Lessor has the right to restrict occupancy by unrelated persons to fewer than the number permitted by the zoning ordinance, and permitted occupancy by unrelated persons under this lease is set forth in paragraph __ of this lease.

Lessor has the right to restrict occupancy by unrelated persons to fewer than the number permitted by the zoning ordinance, and permitted occupancy by unrelated persons under this lease is __.

More information, including forms and a zoning district map, is available on the City of Columbia website.

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