What are you to do when your Oklahoma tenant refuses to pay rent, for example? Well, you 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 your calls? And days turn to weeks, and weeks to months? In such a case, an eviction would certainly be on the cards.
Now, eviction in Oklahoma is a pretty straightforward process. Following the process to the letter is key.
The following is the step-by-step eviction process all Oklahoma landlord must abide by:
Step #1: Legal Reason
You must have a legal reason to evict your tenant. You cannot simply decide on your own terms. Some acceptable reasons for tenant eviction are as follows:
- Refusal to pay rent
- Habitual late rent payment
- Excessive property damage
- Refusal to leave after the lease is over
- The tenant engaging in illegal activities while at the property
- The tenant committing a serious lease violation, 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, you'll need to serve the tenant with an eviction notice. An eviction notice is a special type of written notice that must state certain crucial points. For example:
- Reason for the eviction, such as eviction for non-payment of rent
- The notice period
- What the tenant must do after the notice period is over
There are various eviction notice types depending on the violation the tenant has committed.
Nonpayment of Rent
You must serve the tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Pay. The notice simply tells the tenant that they must pay all due rent in 5 days or else they must move out. If the tenant doesn't pay or move out within the stipulated time, you can proceed with the eviction process.
Here, according to Oklahoma eviction laws, you 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 violations that fall into this category include excessive property damage, exceeding the rental unit, and keeping an unauthorized pet.
This is a serious violation of the lease agreement. Oklahoma eviction laws don't require you to give a written notice to the tenant regarding this. You can proceed with the eviction immediately once you 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, you 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, you must file a complaint in an appropriate court in Oklahoma. The filing will usually cost you $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 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 a court appearance, the court will likely issue a default judgment in your favor. You 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.
- You used "self-help" eviction methods. Did you try to evict the tenant yourself? For example, by changing locks, turning off utilities, or even removing their belongings. If so, besides delaying the eviction, the tenant may be able to sue you for damages.
- You failed to follow the proper eviction procedure. Did you 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.
- The eviction is a retaliatory act. The 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.
- You failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards. As per the Oklahoma law, you must maintain your property to habitable standards. You 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. You cannot, therefore, try to evict them for nonpayment of rent.
Step #5: Writ of Execution
A Writ of Execution is a document that serves as the tenant's final notice to leave their rented premises. A court will issue it a few hours to a few days once you have requested it after a successful judgment.
The tenant will have a maximum of 48 hours to move out once the court has issued you with the writ. If the tenant doesn't, then the sheriff will have no option but to remove them forcibly.
If you need help with managing your rental properties, contact Draper Realty today. Disclaimer: The information herein is only meant to be educational and not a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need further help, please consider hiring professional legal advice.