Oklahoma Tenant Information
The information below is based on the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (current 2020)
- Tenants must comply with the lease agreement.
- Tenants must not participate in criminal or drug related activity.
- Tenants must keep the premises clean and safe.
- Tenants must not allow anything to be done that would disturb other tenants.
Tenant Lease Obligations
- A tenant can be evicted if they engage with material noncompliance of the lease and it affects the health or safety of others.
- If harm to the property is imminent, then the landlord may terminate immediately and initiate eviction proceedings.
- A landlord can require a security deposit.
- In order to receive their security deposit, a tenant must request the return of the money in writing within six months after the lease has ended.
- The landlord has to return the security deposit within 45 days of receipt of the request.
Landlord Right to Enter
- The Landlord must give you at least 24 hours’ notice to enter your home or apartment.
- They may enter only during a reasonable time, unless it is an emergency, like a fire, a flood or to make emergency repairs.
- You must allow your landlord to enter your apartment for usual inspections, repairs, and for other reasonable purposes.
Home Repair Rights
- Determine the reasonable cost of the repair.
- If the reasonable cost is $100 or less, the tenant can provide the landlord with written notice, repair the issue, then deduct the cost from next month’s rent.
- The tenant can provide the landlord notice that if the repair is not done within 14 days, the tenant can move out within 30 days and not pay any more rent.
- If the property is, or becomes “unlivable” or “uninhabitable,” or is dangerous, the tenant may give the landlord written notice of the problem and move out right away.
- Refer to the below slideshow for additional information regarding utilities.
Termination of Lease Rights
- Determine if your lease is on a yearly basis, a monthly basis, or a week to week basis.
- Tenancy notice is determined by what type of lease you have.
- If you are behind in your rent, your landlord must give you at least a 5 day written notice. If you do not pay the rent you owe within five days, the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings. The Landlord can then file an eviction action against you in court.
- If you are evicted, the sheriff will post a notice on your door. You only have 48 hours to remove your property.
- If you leave any property behind, you must pay the landlord what you owe before you can get your property back.
Eviction Court Process
Below is information about before eviction proceedings, court processes on the day of the eviction proceedings, and about hallway negotiations.
Basic Tenant Information Before Court
What Causes Evictions
- Failure to pay rent (most common reason).
- Damage to the property.
- Repeated or severe violation of apartment rules.
- Possession of illegal drugs.
- Committing a crime.
- Housing more people than the lease allows.
- Failure to maintain water and electric service.
- A lease is a contract between you and the landlord.
- Tenants usually may not withhold rent when it’s due, even if there is something that needs repair in the unit.
- Landlords cannot evict because you have late fees.
- Landlords cannot shut off utilities to force you to leave.
- Landlords can evict you for failure to pay rent or other major or repeated violations of the lease.
If the Landlord Evicts You
- Landlords cannot remove you from your home without going through the court system.
- A “forcible entry and detainer” action will be issued by the landlord to try to remove you.
Eviction Service & Notice
- A landlord must provide proper service.
- This will include a copy of the summons and when and where to go for your court date.
- Landlords can mail you a notice or post it on your door.
- DO NOT ignore this court summons.
Getting to Court
- If you receive a summons, it is essential that you go to court.
- You will be evicted if you do not appear on your court date and your landlord or their attorney appears.
- If you do not appear, a default judgment will occur and you may also be ordered to pay what you owe the landlord.
Day of Court Information
Background Eviction Court Information*
- The Tulsa County Courthouse is located at 500 S Denver Ave.
- There are two entrances. The main entrance faces the library and the other faces Denver Ave.
- The eviction court is Room 112 on the first floor.
- The eviction docket starts at 2:00 pm
- Make sure to arrive early and to be seated in the courtroom to avoid a default judgment in the favor of the landlord.
*Court locations and docket times have changed during the COVID-19 crisis. Please check the Tulsa County District Court for the most up-to-date information. You can also lookup your case information and hearing date and time on OSCN.
In the Courtroom
- The Judge will arrive around 2:00 pm and will give a short introduction about procedures.
- The Judge will then match landlords and tenants.
- The Judge may assign a mediator to your case.
- Alternately, landlords and/or their attorneys and tenants will be directed into the hallway to try and to come to an agreement.
- Often there will be Legal Aid, Still, She Rises, and other organizations offering free legal service there to help you with your case.
- If landlords are granted possession of the property, the landlord must file an eviction execution.
- After filing the paperwork, a Deputy Sheriff will be assigned to post the Eviction Notice at the residence. Once it has been posted, Oklahoma Law requires a minimum of 48 hours to be given to any and all occupants before they will be removed.
- A tenant may ask the judge to stay or delay the eviction to allow the tenant additional time to leave the property.
- The tenant may also appeal the eviction order to the district court.
Eviction Court Hallway Information
What to Expect
- You will see other tenants negotiating with landlords and their attorneys.
- You may also see pro bono attorneys working for tenants.
- You may have to wait a long time to speak to your landlord or their attorney,
- DO NOT leave without speaking to your landlord or their attorney. Otherwise, the judge may enter into a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
Caution When Negotiating
- The landlord’s attorney is there to represent the best interest of the landlord.
- The landlord or their attorney will try to negotiate the best deal for them.
- The landlord’s attorney may use legal terms that you do not understand or may try to intimidate you.
- The landlord’s attorney may also have a non-attorney assistant with them. Be careful when speaking with these individuals.
- Do not sign anything without reading it.
- You are not required to make a deal.
- You have the right to have your case heard before the Judge.
Pro Bono Attorneys
- These attorneys represent the tenant’s best interest.
- Tell them as much relevant information as possible.
- After you begin working with an attorney, it is illegal for your landlord’s attorney to speak to you without your attorney present.
- Any issues with the property such as plumbing or heating and air conditioning problems should be discussed.
- Also, mention any ideas on reaching a payment plan or other options to allow you to stay on the property.
After an Agreement
- Do not leave the court until your agreement has been approved by the Judge.
- Get copies of signed documents.
- Follow through with the terms of your agreement.
Eviction Reform in Oklahoma
Oklahoma faces an eviction crisis. According to 2016 data collected by the Eviction Lab, the city of Tulsa is the 11th highest evicting city in America. It evicts roughly 7.77 out of every 100 renters per year.
Data on other Oklahoma cities from the Eviction Lab:
- Oklahoma City national ranking: 20, eviction rate: 6.19%
- Norman national ranking: 83, eviction rate 3.47%
- Broken Arrow national ranking: 90, eviction rate 3.32%
For more information on nationwide eviction data, visit evictionlab.org.
Evictions in Action
Most evictions are based on overdue rent. Evictions must be implemented through the court process. Self-help evictions, which include changing locks, removing physical belongings, shutting off utilities, or other forms of intimidation are unlawful.
Evictions also may not proceed if the landlord failed to provide proper notice, if the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is not in good standing, or if done solely in retaliation for tenant complaints.
Tenants should familiarize themselves with their rights and seek legal assistance where possible. In addition to the loss of a home, evictions may result in monetary liability. An eviction filing, in addition to an eviction judgment, also may show up on a person’s credit history, making it difficult to rent housing.
Addressing Oklahoma’s housing crisis requires efforts both inside and outside of the courtroom. These include:
- Increased education about the eviction process.
- Community building around tenant advocacy.
- Universal civil legal representation.
- Reforms to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act
For more information on the eviction court proceedings and suggested reforms, see the June 2020 report by the Terry West Civil Legal Clinic: Advancing Housing Justice in Tulsa: An Examination of the FED Docket
For additional resources and information, go to: