Due to the overwhelming amount of landlord/tenant law questions to our firm, Atkins & Markoff would like to provide some basic information via our website. This does not constitute legal advice. Our firm does not currently handle landlord/tenant issues and we cannot provide legal advice via phone calls or email at this time. We apologize for this inconvenience; however, we hope that the information contained in the website will answer the majority of your questions.
Oklahoma Landlord Tenant FAQs
Interpreting and understanding Oklahoma law as it relates to the rights of both the landlord and the tenant can be equal parts daunting and confusing. However, it is also understand the legal ramifications of landlord/tenant contract violations, and how they can impact your personal and financial future. The following are a list of commonly-asked questions by tenants relating to landlord/tenant responsibilities:
What is the definition of a landlord?
A landlord is the owner of piece of real property (i.e. a "rental property"), who leases it to another person. The landlord allows a tenant the usage and occupation of his/her property in exchange for the monthly payment of rent.
What is the definition of a tenant?
A tenant is a person who has the right to use and occupy rental property leased from a landlord. The tenant still remains responsible for the payment of rent to the landlord and any damages to the property caused by the tenant or related parties during the time of occupancy.
What is the definition of a rental agreement?
A lease, sometimes also referred to as a rental agreement, is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant which gives the tenant the right to use and occupy rental property for a period of time. A lease can be an oral agreement, or it can be in writing. If the lease extends beyond one year, most states require that it be in writing. At the end of the lease, use and possession of rental property must be returned to the landlord. In addition to other responsibilities, a lease requires the tenant to pay the landlord a specified amount of money each month; this payment is called rent.
Can a landlord enter a tenant’s home without previous notice?
The landlord can enter in a reasonable way at reasonable times to inspect, make repairs, supply necessary services, to show the building to potential buyers, tenants, workmen, etc. Unless there is an emergency, the landlord should give the tenant at least one day's notice of intent to enter.
What if a tenant fails to move when the rental contract has expired?
A landlord may immediately sue for the tenant’s eviction and any damages incurred during the period where the contract has been breached. The landlord also may collect twice the amount of rent if the tenant’s holdover is deemed not to be in good faith.
What is a security deposit, and how can a tenant get their deposit back?
A landlord can require a security deposit, which is essentially monetary protection against possible damages and or other unforeseen occurrences incurred during the time of which the agreements of the rental contract are in effect. The deposit must be kept in a federally insured account in Oklahoma, separate from the landlord's own funds
In order to re-coup the funds, the tenant must request the return of the money in writing within six months after the lease has ended. A tenant should provide the landlord with a forwarding address or new address where the deposit is to be mailed. The landlord must return it, with a written explanation of any deduction for damages or rent owing, within 30 days after the written request. If the tenant does not request a refund in writing, the landlord may keep the deposit once the six months is up.
If your landlord sells the house or apartment, you must receive either a refund for your deposit or the name and address of the new owner who will return the refund at the end of the lease.
What are a tenant’s primary responsibilities?
A tenant must keep their living area clean and safe; dispose properly of all trash; keep plumbing fixtures clean; use facilities safely, and not deliberately or carelessly destroy anything which belongs to the landlord. The tenant also must comply with the lease and all proper rules and not allow anything to be done which would disturb other tenants.
Can a landlord end a lease at their own discretion?
If a tenant has a lease with a specific expiration date, the landlord cannot evict them before that date unless they fail to pay rent, or otherwise default in some obligation stipulated in the lease which they fail to acknowledge after receiving notice from the landlord.
If a tenant does not pay rent within five days after written notice of the landlord's written demand for payment, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement.
In regards to a month-to-month lease, Oklahoma law stipulates the landlord can give a tenant 30 days written notice, or the tenant can give the landlord 30 days written notice to end the lease at any time.
With a week-to-week lease, the same rules apply, but the tenant need only give or receive one week's notice.
What if there are stipulations in the rental agreement that are different from the Oklahoma Landlord-Tenant law?
Any stipulation that conflicts with the Landlord-Tenant act is unenforceable.
Where should a tenant send notices?
A landlord must give information in writing as to the name and address of the owner, manager or other person who is authorized to accept notices from tenants. This must be kept current. If this disclosure is not made, the person who signs the lease, as landlord, has all the duties of a landlord and must accept notices and make repairs.
If a tenant doesn’t have a signed agreement with a landlord, can they move out anytime they want?
No. Oklahoma requires by statute that a tenant give 30 days notice before moving out. Unless required otherwise by a city's laws or ordinances, it's best to put a notice in a letter to the landlord and hand-deliver it, asking for a signed receipt for the delivery, or send it certified mail, with a return receipt requested.
Who is liable for property damage incurred by structural flaws?
Generally, a landlord will not be liable for damage to personal property arising from a leaky roof or broken pipe. Most rental contracts provide that the tenant is responsible for these losses and the courts enforce the landlord's position. The best solution is for the renter to purchase a renter's insurance policy.