What is a landlord to do when their Oklahoma tenant isn't paying rent, for example? Well, a landlord could call to notify them of the issue. Sometimes it could be that they may have forgotten about it and will quickly resolve the problem.
However, what happens if the tenant refuses to answer any of the landlord's calls? And days turn to weeks, and weeks to months? In such a case, an eviction to remove the person from the premises would certainly be on the cards.
Now, evictions in Oklahoma are a pretty straightforward process. Following the process to the letter is key. If a landlord is new to renting out their property, it's important that, as the landlord, they familiarize themself with this process to ensure that the eviction lawsuit is carried out properly.
The following is the step-by-step Oklahoma eviction process a landlord must abide by:
Step #1: Legal Reason
A landlord must have a legal reason to remove their tenant. The landlord cannot simply decide on their own terms to remove the tenant from the rental unit. Without a proper reason, the landlord may be asked to cover the attorney's fees and other court costs. Some acceptable reasons to evict a tenant in Oklahoma are as follows:
- Refusal to make rental payment
- Habitual late rent payment
- Excessive property damage
- Refusal to leave the rental unit after the lease or rental agreement is over
- The tenant engaging in illegal activities while at the property
- The tenant is committing serious lease agreement violations, such as keeping an unauthorized pet
Once there is justification for the eviction based on the tenant not fulfilling their responsibilities, you'll need to move to the next step.
Step #2: Eviction Notice
Next, the landlord will need to serve the tenant with an eviction notice. A landlord notice to evict is a special type of notice that must state certain crucial points. For example:
- Reason to seek eviction, such as, because the tenant fails to pay rent
- The proper notice period
- What the tenant must do, according to Oklahoma law, after the notice period is over
There are various notice types depending on the violation the tenant has committed.
Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord must serve the tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Quit for failure to pay rent. The written notice simply tells the tenant that they must pay all past due rent in 5 days or else they must move out of the rental unit. If the tenant pays the process doesn't need to continue. If they don't pay rent or move out within the stipulated time, the landlord can begin legal eviction process.
Here, according to Oklahoma eviction laws, a property owner must serve the tenant with a 15-Day Notice to Comply. The notice gives the tenant a maximum of 10 days to resolve the issue or else move out after the 15 days are over. Some of the lease violations that fall into this category that allow a landlord to evict a tenant include excessive property damage, exceeding the rental unit, and keeping an unauthorized pet. If the tenant doesn't resolve the issue, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
These are serious violations of the lease agreements. Oklahoma laws don't require a landlord to give a written notice to the tenant regarding this. The landlord can proceed with the eviction of a tenant immediately once they have become aware of it.
Illegal activity can either be drug-related or be one that threatens the safety, health, and peaceful enjoyment of other tenants. Additionally, a landlord may also be able to evict a tenant for felony convictions such as sex offenses, battery, assault, and violence.
Step #3: Summons & Complaint
At this stage of the process, a landlord file a complaint in an appropriate district court in Oklahoma. The filing fee will usually be $85.
The clerk will then use a process server to serve the summons and complaint to the tenant. In most cases, the process server is usually the sheriff.
Step #4: Court Hearing & Judgment
The eviction proceedings and hearing will then be held anywhere between 5 and 10 days after the tenant is issued by the summons.
If the tenant wishes, they could file a formal, written answer with the court. This isn't, however, a requirement for tenants wishing to attend an eviction hearing.
If the tenant chooses not to make an appearance on the set court date, the court will likely issue a default judgment in the landlords favor. The landlord must then request the court for a Writ of Execution a few hours or days after the ruling.
However, if the tenant makes a court appearance, then the court will provide both parties an opportunity to present their cases. In their defense, the tenant may allege any of the following:
- The landlord used "self-help" eviction methods. Did you, as the landlord try to evict tenants yourself? For example, by changing locks, turning off utilities, or even removing a tenant's personal property. If so, besides delaying the eviction, the tenant may be able to sue you for damages.
- The landlord failed to follow the proper eviction procedure. Did the landlord serve the tenant the right eviction notice, for instance? If not, the tenant may use that as a defense in the eviction lawsuit.
- The eviction is based on discrimination. The Oklahoma Fair Housing Law makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants based on a number of protected characteristics. These include gender, race, religion, disability, familial status, and national origin.
- It's a retaliatory act. The written lease gives tenants several unalienable rights, whether written or implied, such as the right to join or form a union that advocates for their rights. You cannot, then, retaliate against the tenant for exercising such rights. An example of a retaliatory act is increasing rent.
- The landlord failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards. As per the Oklahoma law, a landlord must maintain their property to habitable standards. Landlords must provide running water, garbage receptacles, and ensure all plumbing and electrical systems are functioning properly. If you fail to do so, your tenant will have several options to consider, including withholding rent payments. Landlords cannot, therefore, file evictions for nonpayment of rent.
Step #5: Writ of Execution
A Writ of Execution is a document that serves as the tenant's final written notice requesting them to leave their rented premises. A court will issue it a few hours to a few days once the landlord has requested it after a successful judgment.
The tenant will have a maximum of 48 hours to move out of the property once the court order has been issued with the writ. If the tenant doesn't, then the sheriff will have no option but to remove them forcibly.
There you have it, everything you need to know about the eviction process in Oklahoma. As a landlord you should also familiarize yourself with the state's lease or rental agreement policies, security deposit laws, and other rental property regulations.
Filing for evictions and managing rentals in general can be daunting, if you need professional property management services, contact Draper Realty today!
Disclaimer: The information herein is only meant to be educational and not a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney. If you need further help, please consider hiring professional legal advice.