Oklahoma Residential Eviction Guide
Oklahoma Eviction Overview
This guide breaks down common details and issues in residential real estate evictions in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma does not have consolidated residential eviction rules. That means a combination of statutes must to be used in conjunction to properly complete a residential eviction in Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ORLTA) (41 OS 101-201), statutes on the forcible entry and detainer (FED) process (12 OS 1148.1-1148.16), and the Small Claims Procedure Act (SCPA) (12 OS 1751-1773).
Who can sue for eviction in Oklahoma? The landlord, or the landlord’s property manager, employee, agent, or attorney may file an eviction claim in Oklahoma. Anyone who is not the owner of the property must be working on behalf of the beneficial owner of the property, or the person/entity whose name appears on the deed. The plaintiff must be suing to obtain possession of the property back from the tenant, and thereby terminate the landlord-tenant relationship.
Can I evict someone without a lease in Oklahoma? Yes. Verbal and oral lease agreements are enforceable in Oklahoma. However, if the parties disagree on the terms of the verbal lease because of lack of clarity or not having written evidence, the FED judge will first have to determine what the terms of the agreement were before determining whether a breach or default of those terms has occurred.
Where can I find the terms of my lease? All residential leases should be written and signed by both the landlord (or the landlord’s property manager, agent, or counsel) and the tenant. However, Oklahoma law does allow court enforcement of verbal and oral lease agreements.
When can I evict a residential tenant? Some event of default or breach of the rental agreement by the tenant gives the landlord the right to evict or terminate the agreement.
Typical causes for lease termination include nonpayment of rent, criminal activity on the premises, damage to the property, the lease term expired without a renewal. Beware of auto-renewal of month-to-month or periodic tenancies which are the default lease status under state law.
Notices required to evict in Oklahoma depend on the circumstances. However, the most common notices include an informal notice to correct an issue, a formal notice to quit the premises, notice of lease termination due to nonpayment of rent (also known as a notice to pay or quit), notice of lease termination due to damage to the property, and more. Landlords may have lease terms that require additional notices of any and all other breaches. The timing of lease termination and tenant notices are determined by the contract and state law; landlords should beware that multiple possible deadlines exist under Oklahoma law. Some situations do not require a written notice to quit at all, which may include notice involving criminal drug-related activity and notices to squatters.
How does an eviction impact a tenant’s record? An eviction record is not the same as a credit score or criminal record. Landlords and/or their property managers frequently conduct due diligence on prospective tenants or applicants. This research often includes checking court records for past evictions. If an individual has even one eviction on their record, it is possible for that individual to experience difficulty in finding housing in the future.
What is the risk of not evicting a tenant properly? Because tenants have legal protection under Oklahoma law, a landlord who does not follow the proper eviction procedures and allow the tenant to exercise their rights may be subject to a wrongful eviction lawsuit or a claim for damages.
What if eviction is filed against you as tenant? Because of the impact on your record, tenants are always encouraged to work proactively with the landlord to arrange payment, resolve the default issue, or vacate the property in exchange for the case being dismissed. Most landlords are primarily interested in reletting the property to a new tenant, so they may be willing to exchange “cash for keys.”
Defenses against eviction. Tenants frequently claim that the Landlord violated the terms of the lease or state law; the most common defense is claiming that the landlord failed to provide habitable housing. However, Tenants should beware that these defenses may not resolve the ultimate lease issue and the eviction may still be granted.
What happens to personal property left in the unit after the tenant vacates or is removed? Oklahoma law distinguishes between property with ascertainable value and property without ascertainable value. Landlords should work with counsel to determine what their rights and obligations may be for any property left behind by tenants, especially items which seem like they might be hard to replace or have good resale value.
What if the tenant damages the property during or after the eviction? Landlords can go back to eviction court or small claims court to assert a claim against the tenant for any damage caused to the property. The challenge for the landlord is often the difficulty of actually locating and finding a tenant to serve them with sufficient legal notice after the tenant has left the property; one way to prevent this issue is to hire an attorney or skip-tracer to find the tenant. Another way to ensure you have the ability to serve the tenant with legal notice is to obtain a good forwarding address at the beginning of the lease.
How fast does the eviction process move in Oklahoma? The entire process, including necessary notices and waiting periods, can be concluded in as few as seven days. However, it is more common for a residential eviction to require 20-40 days of notices, waiting periods, hearings, etc. before the tenant is actually removed from the property. If the housing involved in the case is subsidized through government programs, the tenant may be entitled to greater notice and grievance rights than standard Oklahoma eviction rules.
Other helpful info
- Overview of the 2021 tenant “repair-and-deduct” law update
- What terms can and cannot be included in an Oklahoma residential lease?
- Handling a tenant’s abandoned personal property
The attorneys at Avenue Legal Group have the knowledge and experience you need when it comes to residential leasing and eviction matters in Oklahoma. Contact us for specific advice on your eviction situation, to discuss pricing for eviction representations, or to learn how to avoid evictions.
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