Real estate investors who hold rental properties take a leap of faith when bringing in tenants. Ultimately, there is no income from those investment properties without tenants who are willing and able to pay rent each month.
As an investor, the inherent risk lies in the possibility of getting non-paying or problem tenants who put your hard work and money on the line. Getting those tenants out and bringing in good tenants makes all the sense in the world for your investments, but how do you do this within the letter of the law?
Oklahoma eviction laws require careful attention because some landlords and property owners get this wrong and end up dealing with thousands in legal fees and fines.
Qualifications for Eviction in Oklahoma
In order for a landlord or property owner to evict a tenant, certain conditions must be met. Those conditions include:
- A failure to pay rent
- Damage to the rental unit or nearby property
- Violations of the terms of the lease
The last one leaves open a fair amount of situations as defined within your lease and Oklahoma §41-132. You and your tenant must know and follow the terms of the lease, so if the lease stipulates that only two adults can be living in the home and there are now three then this would constitute a violation of the lease terms.
Essentially, tenants may be evicted in any situation where one or more specific terms of the rental agreement have been directly violated and cannot be easily remedied. A tenant cannot be evicted in the middle of a lease term simply because the owner wants to renovate or sell the property.
The Oklahoma Eviction Process
Evicting a tenant is not as simple as notifying them to vacate the property. The actual steps you must take to evict a tenant in Oklahoma depend on the violation being claimed.
In the event of a missed rental payment, the tenant must be provided with a “5-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Payment of Rent)” form. Once this form is completed and submitted to the tenant, they have five days to pay the missed rental payment or face eviction.
In the event of a lease violation, the tenant must be provided with an “Oklahoma 10/15-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Compliance)” form. This gives them 10 days to remedy whatever violation of the lease has taken place (if possible). If the issue is not or cannot be resolved in 10 days and no extension is given, then the tenant has five days to vacate the property after the 10 days are up.
If dangerous illegal activities are taking place on the property then the tenant can be evicted without notice of the beginning of the eviction process. Instead, the tenant can be evicted effective immediately.
Do NOT Put Yourself or Your Tenant(s) in Physical Danger
Once the eviction process is complete, it’s imperative to understand that Oklahoma landlords and property owners do NOT have the right to take any physical action to remove a tenant. This means you cannot physically remove a tenant or their possessions, change locks, or turn off any utilities.
All of these options put your tenant at risk. Instead, law enforcement can and will handle the physical removal of any tenant as necessary once the eviction is approved by the courts. In most cases, it will never reach this point, but you create legal liability and safety risks if you take any steps on your own.The best way to cover your bases in the eviction process is to work with an experienced Oklahoma real estate attorney. At Pence Law Firm, I can help you navigate what is and isn’t legal in the eviction process and make sure you have the necessary legal forms to get problem tenants out. Contact me and protect yourself in the Oklahoma eviction process.