Oklahoma, just like other states, has a statewide landlord-tenant law, and contained within this law are the security deposit laws. Oklahoma security deposit laws essentially define what a landlord can and can’t do in regards to a tenant’s security deposit.
Landlords require security deposits for one main reason: to safeguard themselves against potential financial ruin that can arise from a tenant’s negligence. Examples of such negligent actions include moving out without clearing their rent balances or utility bills.
As a landlord in Oklahoma, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with these rules in order to avoid potential issues down the road. The following is a basic overview of the Oklahoma security deposit laws.
Is there a limit to the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit in Oklahoma?
There is no limit for security deposits for landlords in Oklahoma. You can charge whatever amount of deposit you wish as long as you’ve stated it on the lease agreement.
Despite the lack of a statutory limit, experienced landlords understand the importance of not overcharging their tenants. The ideal range should be anywhere between one- and two months’ rent.
Charging lower than a month’s rent would leave you vulnerable to potential financial damage. Whereas, charging higher than two months’ rent would have the potential of making your property less desirable in the eyes of prospective tenants.
Can landlords in Oklahoma charge an additional pet deposit?
Yes, Oklahoma’s law allows landlords to charge an additional pet deposit. While these often vary, they usually range between $200 and $500. You must, however, not require tenants who use service animals to pay a pet deposit.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires landlords to treat tenants fairly regardless of certain protected classes. And among these classes is disability.
Therefore, requiring a disabled tenant to pay a deposit for their service animal would be a discriminatory act. You’d be liable to paying civil penalties ranging between $16,000 and $65,000 depending on how many violations you’ve committed in the past.
Other protected classes include race, color, nationality, religion, gender, familial status, and age.
What deductions can Oklahoma landlords make on a tenant’s security deposit?
As a landlord in Oklahoma, you have a right to make certain deductions on your tenant’s security deposit. You can use part or all of the tenant’s deposit to cover things like:
- Unpaid rent.
- Cost of repairing damage exceeding “normal wear and tear”.
- Other charges that may be outlined in the rental agreement, like an early termination fee.
What is the difference between damage and “normal wear and tear”?
Knowing the difference between damage and normal wear and tear is key. You’ll be able to avoid potential conflicts between you and your tenant, especially when it comes to security deposit deductions.
Damage is the destruction that occurs on a property as a result of a tenant’s negligence, carelessness, misuse, and abuse. This kind of damage affects the normal functioning and value of the rental premises.
In contrast, normal wear and tear refers to the normal deterioration a property undergoes with time. Damage can include a missing door handle, broken or missing tiles, or a torn carpet. Normal wear and tear can include faded wall paint or a loose door handle.
When must landlords return their tenant’s security deposit in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma landlords have exactly 45 days to return their tenant’s security deposit once a tenant leaves. If you’ve made deductions to the tenant’s deposit, you must also send the itemized list of deductions with the remaining portion during this period.
Tenants have exactly 6 months to claim their security deposit. If they don’t, the deposit will become yours to keep.
What happens if a landlord in Oklahoma fails or refuses to return a tenant’s deposit?
In this case, the tenant may sue you for wrongfully withholding their portion of the security deposit. If the tenant wins the suit, you may have to pay them the entire amount of security deposit, plus damages, and court and attorney fees.
Do landlords in Oklahoma have to provide their tenants with a security deposit receipt?
No. This isn’t a requirement for landlords in the state of Oklahoma. Nevertheless, it may be important that you do so. You may want to notify the tenant about things like:
- The amount of security deposit you received.
- The date you received it.
- How you’re storing it.
- What a tenant must do in order to get a full refund at the end of the lease.
How must landlords in Oklahoma store their tenant’s security deposit?
Oklahoma is among the list of states that specify how landlords must store their tenant’s security deposit. You must store the deposit in an escrow account on behalf of the tenant. The account must be in a financial institution that is located in Oklahoma and is federally insured.
If you use the tenant’s deposit in an unlawful way, you risk serving a jail term up to 6 months. In addition to this, you may also be fined 2X the amount you’ve unlawfully used.
What happens if the property’s ownership changes hands?
You have two options should you decide to sell or transfer ownership of the property. One option would be to return the deposit back to the tenant. The other option would be to transfer the deposit to the incoming landlord. You must then notify the tenant about it in writing.
Here at Keyrenter Tulsa, we can handle all of the specifics when it comes to abiding by the security deposit laws. We offer full service property management that includes collecting rent, property maintenance, tenant screening and understanding all aspects of the landlord-tenant law.
Disclaimer: This content is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. For expert help, Keyrenter Tulsa can help. Our goal is to help property owners in Tulsa, OK achieve stress-free property management. Get in touch to learn more!