Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)/Missouri landlord tenant/squatter issue
Let me know if this is too long and I will edit some more out (I started with about 5 pages!).
The timeline of my Missouri landlord/tenant issue:
My parents gave my sister and me their 5-acre property outside of Campbell where they had lived for over 5 decades.
My sister passed away and her family gave me a Quit Claim deed for her part. I am the sole owner.
I was living in N.C., and my parents still lived on the property. We struggled to keep the maintenance done, so when Kevin and Lynn Moore asked if they could put their trailer on a piece of it, without paying rent on the land, in exchange for doing maintenance and seeing after my parents, Mom, Dad and I agreed. In addition, I said I would research how I might get a deed to the lot for them to have after my parents died if they fulfilled their part of the agreement until that time and for 1 year after. They said they would and moved their trailer on to my property. Everything seemed fine. Kevin, Lynn and I signed a one-year lease agreement for the lot (It is the only document they ever signed).
My father went to a nursing home, and the Moores maintained the property.
They decided they wanted a deed immediately and became angry with my mom and me.
She asked me to try and give them a deed then, and I tried to create a conditional deed to the lot and sent them a number of possible contracts to sign. They refused to sign any of them, and ultimately, I discovered the law does not allow for conditional deeds anyway. Of course, I could not assume my mom would be safe and well-cared for if I gave them a regular deed while she still lived. They would have had no motivation to see after her.
Over the previous year, they had stopped doing any maintenance and refused to speak to us. I sent them each an eviction notice. They ignored them. I had a lawyer arrange for the sheriff’s office to deliver notices to them. They ignored them and entered a new reality where they owned the lot their trailer is on. If Mom went down there to try and talk to them, they called me to say they would have her arrested for trespassing.
I hired a lawyer and filed a complaint with the civil court. They hired a lawyer who filed one continuance after another. Months passed and my mom’s mental, emotional and physical health deteriorated. She was 95, and I couldn’t bear to put her through it anymore and withdrew the complaint without prejudice.
Rest of 2011 and 2012
I continued to mail them eviction notices, which they responded to by calling to yell and curse me, insisting it was their land, but they would sell it to me for many thousands (the amount changed with each call).
My mom died. Now I’m getting the property ready to sell, which will be impossible with those people living on it in their house trailer. I’ve had an offer if I get them and their trailer to leave.
Please tell me if they are squatters or tenants or some other category. The sheriff’s office says they’re tenants because I gave them permission to live there. But I think their lawyer told them if they hold out for 4 more years for a total of 10, squatters rights will prevail. I promised my mom before she died that I would do everything possible to not go back to court with this matter.
Would there be anything illegal about my creating a deed to the lot, notifying the Moore’s that I’m selling it and they have 30 days to remove their trailer? (I already have a buyer for it who may plant an organic garden, or she may just want to quit claim it back to me after the Moores leave) If they refused to leave her property, would that change it from a civil matter to a criminal if they refused to leave? Would my buyer of the lot have to go to court to force them off? Please help me figure out where to find the Missouri laws that govern this situation and tell me what to do.
I will welcome any ideas, suggestions or advice you might offer.
I'm not an expert when it comes to MO law, and it would be in your best interest to hire a competent MO attorney that handles real property and landlord/tenant issues. From what you've described, it would seem to me that they would be considered tenants, and you can go through the eviction process. Here's a link to MO landlord/tenant law:
Thanks for your question!
Attorney at Law
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