Oklahoma is home to more than 4 million people. Out of these, about 40% of households are tenant-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 set of laws in place.
These laws define important things, such as when to return a tenant's security deposit and how much notice landlords must give before accessing rented premises. As a landlord renting out a property, having a good understanding of the statewide tenancy laws is key. Among other things, it can help landlords serve their tenants better while avoiding legal troubles.
The following is a basic overview of the Oklahoma landlord-tenant law:
Required Landlord Disclosures
According to Oklahoma law, a landlord must make certain information known to their tenants prior to them signing the lease agreement. The following are the mandatory disclosures landlords must tell tenants about:
Was the rental property 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 landlords must notify their tenants of this prior to signing the lease.
Has the property ever at some point been used in the manufacture of methamphetamine drugs? If a landlord knows or has reasons to believe so, they have a legal obligation to let their tenant know.
Name & Address of the Landlord
A landlord must also let their tenant know of the person who owns and manages the dwelling unit.
It goes without saying that these disclosures must be in writing and provided before lease signing.
Rights & Responsibilities of Oklahoma Landlords
An Oklahoma residential landlord 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 written notice when tenants are looking to vacate their rental.
- Receive proper notice when their tenant wishes to leave the unit for an extended period of time.
- Evict the tenant for failing to abide by the lease or rental agreements terms.
Landlord responsibilities under Oklahoma landlord-tenant law also consist of:
- 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 repairs and maintenance requests in a timely manner
Oklahoma Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Oklahoma landlord-tenant law state that tenant rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental unit
- Receiving written notice 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 tenant responsibilities, they include:
- Keeping the property clean and sanitary
- Abiding by the terms of the lease or rental agreement
- Notifying landlords of needed repairs
- Notifying the landlord when looking to vacate their rental property
- Notifying the landlord when looking to be away from the residence 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 Landlord-Tenant Laws in Oklahoma
1. Security Deposit Rules
Oklahoma has basic rules for both tenants and landlords in regard to a security deposit. One such rule is how landlords should store their tenant's security deposit. Immediately after a landlord receives it, they 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, a landlord must return the security deposits 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, a landlord must first notify their tenant of their intentions to enter the rented premises. This must be a written notice and the tenant must be made aware of it 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, landlords must be careful about how they write your property descriptions, as well as how they screen a prospective tenant. For instance, it's illegal to include any of the following statements in a marketing copy as they could be considered forms of housing discrimination:
- 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 and therefore violate their Fair Housing Rights.
4. Eviction Rules
As already mentioned, Oklahoma tenants have a right to a judicial eviction process. This means that it'd be illegal for a landlord to take matters into their own hands and immediately evict tenants. 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 a tenant failing to pay rent or another lease violation. 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.
It's important to understand Oklahoma law and federal law as it pertains to renters rights and landlord duties. These laws are subject to change therefore it's important to remain up-to-date.
If need further help consider hiring professional legal services or an experienced management company. Contact our team at Draper Realty for support.
Disclaimer: This information is only intended to be informational and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.