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How Long Before Property Is Considered Abandoned in Missouri

How Long Before Property Is Considered Abandoned in Missouri?

When it comes to property ownership and rights, it is crucial to understand the laws and regulations governing abandonment. In the state of Missouri, there are specific guidelines that determine how long a property must be left unattended before it can be considered abandoned. This article will delve into the details of Missouri’s abandonment laws, the process involved, and answer some frequently asked questions regarding property abandonment.

Abandonment of Property in Missouri:

In Missouri, the concept of abandonment revolves around the idea of non-use or neglect of a property for an extended period. According to the state law, a property can be deemed abandoned if it meets specific criteria, which include:

1. Intent to Abandon: The property owner must exhibit a clear intent to abandon the property. This can be proven through actions like vacating the premises, discontinuing utility services, or giving notice of intent to abandon.

2. Non-Use: The property must be left unoccupied and unused for a continuous period of time. The duration required for abandonment varies depending on the type of property.

3. Neglect: The property must be neglected or left in a state of disrepair. This neglect should be significant, indicating the owner’s lack of interest or intention to maintain the property.

Determining the Duration of Abandonment:

The length of time required to consider a property abandoned varies depending on its type. Here are some common property types and their corresponding abandonment periods in Missouri:

1. Residential Property: A residential property, such as a house, apartment, or condominium, is considered abandoned if left unoccupied for six consecutive months.

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2. Commercial Property: Commercial properties, including offices, retail stores, and warehouses, are considered abandoned if left unoccupied for one year.

3. Vacant Land: Vacant land is considered abandoned if left unused and unattended for five years.

4. Vehicles: Abandoning a vehicle on public property, such as streets or highways, for more than 48 hours is considered a violation of law. However, the abandonment of a vehicle on private property is a civil matter and not subject to specific time restrictions.

The Process of Declaring Property Abandoned:

If a property meets the criteria for abandonment, interested parties, such as neighboring property owners or local authorities, can initiate the process of declaring the property abandoned. The steps involved in this process typically include:

1. Notification: The interested party must provide written notice to the property owner, informing them of their intent to declare the property abandoned. This notice should include the reasons for considering the property abandoned and a deadline for the owner to respond or take necessary actions.

2. Waiting Period: After receiving the notice, the property owner is given a specific period to respond or rectify the situation. The waiting period varies depending on the circumstances and local regulations.

3. Verification: If the property owner fails to respond or take appropriate actions within the specified time, interested parties can proceed with the verification process. This may involve documenting the property’s condition, gathering evidence of neglect, and confirming the owner’s lack of intent to maintain the property.

4. Declaration of Abandonment: Finally, if the interested parties can provide sufficient evidence of abandonment, a declaration of abandonment can be made. This may involve obtaining legal authorization, such as a court order or approval from local authorities.

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Q: Can a property be considered abandoned if the owner occasionally visits or checks on it?

A: In Missouri, occasional visits or checks on the property may not necessarily prevent it from being considered abandoned. The key factor is the continuous non-use and neglect of the property for the stipulated duration.

Q: What happens to abandoned properties in Missouri?

A: Once a property is declared abandoned, the interested parties may take legal action to acquire the property through processes like adverse possession or tax foreclosure. However, it is recommended to consult with a legal professional for guidance specific to your situation.

Q: Can a property owner prevent their property from being declared abandoned?

A: Yes, a property owner can prevent their property from being declared abandoned by ensuring it is occupied, maintained, and demonstrating an intent to use it.

Q: Are there any exceptions to the abandonment laws?

A: Yes, certain exceptions exist, such as properties that are subject to ongoing legal proceedings, properties affected by natural disasters, or properties with valid temporary occupancy permits.


Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding property abandonment in Missouri is essential for property owners, neighbors, and local authorities. By knowing the criteria for abandonment, the duration required, and the process involved, individuals can navigate this complex area of property rights more effectively. If you find yourself dealing with a potential abandonment situation, it is advisable to seek legal counsel for guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

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