In our webinars over the past few months, we’ve had the privilege of sharing many topics pertaining to property management. We’ve discussed the benefits of partnering with a property management company, how to calculate rental return rates, practices for screening Oklahoma tenants for your property, and how to conduct an immediate eviction.

Today, however, we are going to share more about the Oklahoma landlord-tenant laws. This act is a state law that works with the fair housing rights provided by federal law, which governs the rights and responsibilities of both Oklahoma tenants and Oklahoma landlords.

What does this mean for you as a property owner? How do you protect yourself and your other tenants? In this blog post, we will recap the information we shared regarding the Landlord-Tenant laws of Oklahoma.

During the course of this webinar, I reference the Oklahoma landlord-tenant law, which can be found at this link.

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Understanding the Landlord-Tenant Act of Oklahoma

In our webinar last month, we discussed how to conduct an eviction from start to finish. The only reason you would need to conduct an eviction is if an individual has violated some portion of the act.

Tenants are not the only individual capable of violating the act, such as a failure to pay rent. Unfortunately, we find ourselves having to educate Oklahoma landlords on a fairly routine basis on how they are in violation of the act. For this reason, it is important that both landlords and tenants are educated on the guidelines shared in the act.

For the rest of our time together, we will look at specific terms of the act of Oklahoma that are frequently violated or referenced. As a landlord or a tenant, it is important to read this act in its entirety. In the following sections, we will refer to portions of text that are taken directly from the Landlord-Tenant Act of Oklahoma.

Term of Tenancy

§41-110. Term of the tenancy. 

If you don’t have a lease, you are in a month-to-month lease with your tenant or your landlord. If you have a written lease that expired, you are in a month-to-month lease. You can not come to a tenant with an expired lease and request that they move out by tomorrow. They are not in possession of your property illegally. They are actually in a form of a tenancy agreement, a month-to-month lease.

Termination of Tenancy

§41-111. Termination of tenancy.

If you want to terminate that month-to-month tenancy for any reason – such as if the tenant fails to pay rent. You must provide a 30-day notice to non-renew the lease. If you give someone a 30-day notice to vacate, you are allowed to begin eviction proceedings on the 31st day.

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A tenancy can end for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Drug-related criminal activity or other Oklahoma landlord-tenant law breaches.
  • Lease violations such as a failure to pay a month’s rent. Or a lease violation that causes damage to the property.
  • A landlord fails to meet their landlord responsibilities, even if the tenant pays a month’s rent.
  • An attempt to immediately evict tenants using illegal means or when ordered to by a small claims court.
  • Breaches of the Fair Housing Act.

In theory, the tenant would’ve moved out and you are once again in possession of the property. You can begin the process to turn the rental unit. Because of this, it is best to say something to the tenant before the lease end date occurs.

The same goes for a tenant. As a tenant, it is best to say something to your landlord before the rental agreement’s end date occurs regarding your intentions. A landlord should be responsible for establishing this contact 30 to 60 days prior to the lease end date.

§41-111. Termination of tenancy.

To terminate any tenancy, you must deliver a written notice to vacate to the tenant. The best option for serving a landlord written notice is to deliver it directly to the tenant or a family member over the age of twelve. However, if this is not possible you must post it conspicuously on the home.

What qualifies as a conspicuous place? This is subject to interpretation. However, we typically post an unconditional quit written notice on both the front door and the back door if we have access.

If you are dealing with an individual who does not have any type of lease but still pays rent to you. You will have to address the situation differently. A squatter will not need to be evicted according to federal law. However, the police will rarely, if ever, enforce the removal of a squatter. Because of this, they generally need to be evicted or charged by a small claims court.

Damage or Security Deposits

§41-115. Damage or security deposits.

This portion of the act covers a security deposit. Basically, the security deposit law says that, as a landlord, you must keep security deposits in an escrow account for the tenant. Using this money is illegal, it should stay in an escrow account.

The security deposit is not the landlord’s money until it becomes the landlord’s money at the end of the lease. This may be due to an outstanding balance or excessive damages.

Upon termination of the lease, the landlord can apply the security deposit towards losses caused by a breach of the act or specific lease. The tenant has six months to request a deposit refund in writing. If that request arrives, the landlord has 45 days to return the money. If that request from the tenant does not arrive, the security deposit reverts to the landlord.

Landlord’s Breach of Rental Agreements

§41-121. Landlord’s breach of rental agreement – Deductions from rent for repairs – Failure to supply heat, water, or other essential services – Habitability of dwelling unit. 

In previous webinars, we have discussed the 10/15 written notice that a landlord would give to a tenant telling them that they are in violation of a term of the lease. After this type of notice is delivered, the tenant would have 10 days to remedy the violation of the lease. Or, if not remedied in 15 days, the rental agreement would be terminated.

In a similar way, a tenant may send to the landlord a 30-day notice that highlights what portion of the lease is noncompliant that is affecting their health or safety. If it is not remedied within 14 days, the tenant may cancel their lease after the 30-day notice is over. This specifically relates to the habitability of the dwelling and things that directly affect the health or safety of the tenants.

While this may be open to some interpretation, it generally refers to heat in the winter, water, and other essential services such as sewage. If these services are unavailable at a property for any reason, they must be immediately remedied by the landlord.

The second portion of this section states that a tenant can fix the noncompliance issue on their own. In this situation, the tenant can address a situation that is affecting their health or safety, they can pay up to $100 to have the necessary repairs done and deduct that cost from their monthly rent payments.

While this is true, I have never seen it happen. Any non-compliance issue that is affecting the health or safety of a tenant will cost more than $100. In my opinion, this is a bit archaic as $100 simply does not do much in today’s economy.

The truth is, in a situation where the habitability of a dwelling unit is in question, it is unlikely that a tenant would react using all of the options found within this section. However, they could easily terminate the lease agreement. I’ve only seen a tenant terminate tenancy once for lack of an essential service. We try to never let a situation escalate to this point.

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Consent for Landlord to Enter Dwelling Unit

§41-128. Consent of tenant for the landlord to enter dwelling unit – Emergency entry – Abuse of right of entry – Notice – Abandoned premises – Refusal of consent.

This is a situation that we encounter frequently at Keyrenter Tulsa. Whether for maintenance or inspections, it is important that we are able to access the rental property. Basically, this section of the act states that a tenant cannot prevent you from entering the property for a legitimate reason, and making repairs under the landlord-tenant law would be legitimate.

In the case of an emergency, you do not need consent from the tenant to enter the property. This would include things such as water flooding, burglary, or other emergency situation. We do find ourselves in these types of emergency situations, especially if the tenant is out of town.

Landlord access is also important to consider. With the exception of an emergency situation, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 24-hour notice before entering the dwelling unit. A tenant may not refuse entry of the landlord as long as proper written notice is provided.

As the owner of a rental property, it is important that you know what the act of Oklahoma states so that you can navigate property management legally. You can read the Landlord-Tenant Act here.

Bottom Line

Thank you for joining us to learn more about the act of Oklahoma and the landlord-tenant law! As always, we are available to answer any questions you have regarding the property management services we offer at Keyrenter Tulsa.

We look forward to hearing from you!