COLUMBIA, Mo. – Renters forced to leave homes damaged by floods or other natural disasters do not have to continue paying rent, notes a University of Missouri Extension family financial planning specialist.

“Under Missouri law, if the house or apartment you rent becomes uninhabitable through no fault of your own, you are released from the remainder of your lease,” said Brenda Procter.

Section 441.645 of the Missouri Revised Statutes states that if “a residence is destroyed by an act of God, including but not limited to fire or a tornado, or other natural disaster or man-made disaster, so long as the tenant was not the person who caused the disaster, the tenant shall not be liable to the landlord for rent during the remainder of the term of the lease agreement.”

Tenants should notify their landlord in writing that they are vacating their lease under provisions of Section 441.645 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, Procter said. “Tenants should also request the return of any deposit on the lease.”

If the landlord is unwilling to return the deposit, the tenant can contact the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 800-392-8222 (in-state calls only) or 573-751-3321, or file a consumer complaint online at

The tenant is responsible for personal property such as clothing, furniture, jewelry and electronics. “Damage to personal property would be covered by renters insurance in most cases,” Procter said. “However, renters insurance does not cover damages caused by flood.  A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover those damages.”

Laws on the specific rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants differ from state to state, and sometimes may vary in different parts within a state.