The Oklahoma eviction process, like most states, allows for an expedited procedure to expel a tenant for nonpayment of rent, holding over after expiration of the lease term or for a violation of a material provision of the lease. In all cases, a landlord may not force a tenant to vacate without first serving the proper Oklahoma eviction notice and by obtaining a court order.
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Self-Eviction is Illegal
A landlord who tries to force a tenant to leave without following the judicial process may be liable to the tenant for any damages incurred. The tenant can also obtain injunctive relief ordering the landlord to refrain from repeating the illegal acts. Self-eviction includes changing the locks on the unit or padlocking the doors and windows, shutting off the utilities, removing the tenant’s personal property, threatening the tenant with violence or any other conduct to force the tenant out.
Most evictions are based on nonpayment of rent. When the rent becomes overdue, the landlord must first serve an Oklahoma 5-Day Notice to Quit, which advises the tenant of the rent amount due and that it must be paid within the 5-day period or legal action to evict the tenant will commence. The other option is for the tenant to leave.
A tenant who is unable to pay the rent may wish to leave rather than be served with a civil suit called a Forcible Entry and Detainer action. If a judgment of possession is entered in favor of the landlord, the tenants will have the court action on his or her public record, which will not only affect the tenants’ credit score but will make it difficult to find another landlord willing to rent to them.
A landlord may accept the rent after the notice, or grace, period has expired, but the tenant should receive a written statement that the landlord will not seek eviction.
For other lease violations such as having unauthorized persons or pets living on the property, creating a nuisance, or failing to maintain the property in a safe and sanitary condition, the Oklahoma eviction notice must state the condition that has been violated and that the lease will terminate in 15-days unless the condition is remedied within 10-days.
A landlord may enter the premises after 10-days to repair the property that is the subject of the eviction or lease violation and submit the repair costs to the tenant as rent on the next rental due date or for the reasonable value of the repairs along with the rent. The eviction may not go forward if this action is taken.
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If the tenant is engaged in conduct such as substantially damaging the premises or causing immediate and irremediable harm to the property or others and fails to promptly remedy the violation after having been given reasonable notice, the landlord may begin an immediate forcible entry and detainer suit.
For month-to-month tenancies, the notice is 30-days.
Service of Notice
Service of the notice to quit may be personally served on the tenant or on a person who is over the age of 12 who has been advised of the nature of the notice. If a tenant or person is unavailable, the notice may be posted but also sent by registered mail.
Forcible Entry and Detainer
A landlord must file and serve a Summons and Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer as the next step in the Oklahoma eviction process. A landlord can request damages in this action such as past due rent or costs of repair, court costs and attorney’s fees along with possession but can only collect monetary damages if the tenant is personally served.
These documents are served by a process server or sheriff at least 3 days before the hearing date.
If the tenant has any viable defenses or counterclaims against the landlord, he or she should file and serve a written Answer before the court date. Either party may request a jury trial or a court trial will be held.
If both parties appear, the judge will want them to attempt a settlement to be approved by the court, if possible. Otherwise, the hearing will commence with the landlord having to prove the breach warranting the eviction along with proof of service of the proper notice. The tenant may present any defenses or counterclaims.
A tenant in the Oklahoma eviction process may assert any of the following defenses:
- The breach of a lease provision is not substantial enough to warrant an eviction.
- The allegations are false.
- There was improper service.
- The notice was improper.
- The landlord waived eviction by accepting rent if the landlord provided written proof of the waiver.
- The eviction is in retaliation for the tenant having filed a complaint regarding the condition of the property or had joined a tenant’s rights union.
- The eviction is based on the tenant’s religion, race, sex, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital or family status, or disability.
If the landlord gains possession, the court will issue a Writ of Execution at the request of the landlord. The tenant has 2-days to vacate the property or the landlord may give the Writ to the sheriff to execute and to remove the tenant’s personal belongings from the property.
The landlord may have a lien on the tenant’s property and may sell the items provided 10-days notice by registered or certified mail is given to the tenant.
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