Oklahoma is home to more than 4 million people. Out of these, about 40% of households are renter-occupied. In other words, this means that about 1.6 million people rent their homes.
Now, conflicts between landlords and tenants aren't unheard of. And to help minimize these types of tenant-landlord problems, the state of Oklahoma has an extensive and rather straightforward law in place.
The law defines important things, such as when to return a tenant's security deposit and how much notice to give before accessing rented premises. As a landlord, having a good understanding of the statewide tenancy law is key. Among other things, it can help you serve your tenant better while avoiding legal troubles.
The following is a basic overview of the Oklahoma landlord-tenant law:
Required Landlord Disclosures
In Oklahoma, you must make certain information known to your tenant prior to them signing the lease agreement. The following are the mandatory disclosures:
Was your rental unit built before 1978? If so, there is some chance that it contains lead-based paint. Lead exposure can be a health risk. It can cause all types of health issues, from high blood pressure to heart diseases.
Has the property ever been subjected to flooding in the past five years? If so, then you must notify your tenant of this.
Has your property ever at some point been used in the manufacture of methamphetamine drugs? If you know or have reasons to believe so, you have a legal obligation to let your tenant know.
Name & Address of the Landlord
You must also let your tenant know of the person who owns and manages the property.
It goes without saying that these disclosures must be in writing and provided before lease signing.
Rights & Responsibilities of Oklahoma Landlords
A landlord in Oklahoma has a right to:
- Enter their tenant's home to carry out any of their responsibilities. For example, to repair an issue, or to inspect the unit for damage.
- Make changes to the lease agreement so long as they get their tenant's consent.
- Receive a notice when a tenant looks to vacate their rented premises.
- Be notified when their tenant wishes to leave the premises for an extended period of time.
- Evict the tenant for failing to abide by the terms of the lease agreement.
Oklahoma landlords are also responsible for:
- Providing the tenant with a rental unit that meets the basic local habitability codes
- Following all terms of the lease agreement
- Treating all tenants fairly and equally as per the provisions of the state's Fair Housing laws
- Responding to maintenance requests in a timely manner
Oklahoma Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Oklahoma tenant rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental unit
- Being notified when the landlord wishes to enter their unit to carry out their responsibilities
- Being treated fairly and equally without discrimination
- A judicial eviction process
As for responsibilities, they include:
- Keeping the unit clean and sanitary
- Abiding by the terms of the lease agreement
- Notifying the landlord when looking to vacate their rented premises
- Notifying the landlord when looking to be away for an extended period of time
- Letting the tenant know of any maintenance issues that arise
- Repairing any damage that results from their negligent use of the property
Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Oklahoma
1. Security Deposit Rules
Oklahoma has basic rules for both tenants and landlords in regard to security deposits. One such rule is how landlords should store their tenant's deposit. Immediately after you receive it, you must store it in an escrow account. This account must not only be federally insured, but must also be in a financial institution located within the state.
Another rule pertains to the return of the tenant's security deposit. After a tenant moves out, you must return the deposit within 30 days.
2. Landlord Entry
Every tenant in the United States has a right to privacy. Barging in uninvited can be a recipe for legal issues, especially if done multiple times.
Granted, as a landlord, you have a right to enter rented premises. However, this right is only guaranteed so long as you're entering to carry out one of your responsibilities. These may include:
- Inspecting the unit for damage
- Conducting agreed or requested repairs
- Investigating potential rent violations
- Showing the unit to prospective buyers, lenders or renters
- In the event of an emergency
Even so, you must first notify your tenant of your intentions to enter their premises. The notice period must be written and made aware of at least 24 hours in advance.
3. Fair Housing Rules
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing-related matters based on protected characteristics. In Oklahoma, the protected characteristics are sex, religion, color, race, age, national origin, and disability.
As such, you must be careful about how you write your property descriptions, as well as how you screen tenants. For instance, it's illegal to include any of the following statements in a marketing copy.
- Ideal for a single professional
- Great for working folk or students
- Ideal for a quiet couple
- Perfect for a male student
All these statements discriminate against a tenant in one way or another.
4. Eviction Rules
As already mentioned, Oklahoma tenants have a right to a judicial eviction process. This means that it'd be illegal for you to take matters into your own hands. For example, by removing the tenant's belongings from the unit, or by shutting off utilities. Such actions will not only delay the eviction process, but can also land you in legal trouble.
To evict a tenant, you'll first need to have a legal cause, such as nonpayment of rent. Next, you'll need to serve them with an eviction notice. Moreover, depending on the action they take, you may need to take the eviction process a notch higher by heading over to court.
Need further help? If so, consider hiring professional legal services or an experienced property management company. Contact our team at Draper Realty for support. Note that this information is only intended to be informational and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.