If you are a landlord in Oklahoma and you need to evict a tenant, you must strictly follow certain procedures or else the judge will not grant you the eviction. If you show up to court and don’t win, you’ve lost more than just the case. You’ve also lost your time, the money you’ve spent on filing fees, and most importantly, another monthly billing cycle of collecting rent.
You do not want to lose. You want to get possession of your property, so that you can get it turned around — cleaned up, fixed and repaired — so that you can get a new tenant signed up and paying rent.
What to do if a Tenant fails to pay rent in Oklahoma
Every rental agreement has a two things in common: 1) specific amount of rent that must be paid; and 2) a due date. This is true whether the agreement is a written lease or a month-to-month oral contract.
If a tenant fails to pay rent by the due date, then the tenant has breached the lease, and is in default. At this point, the Landlord has two options:
- The Landlord may sue for the money owed; and/or,
- The Landlord may terminate the lease, and sue for possession of the property.
In order to exercise the option to terminate the lease, the Landlord must first give the Tenant an opportunity to pay the past-due rent within five days, which is called a 5-Day Notice to Cure or Quit Possession. See Title 41, Okla.Stat. § 131.
What is a 5-Day Notice?
Before filing an eviction in court, a Landlord must first give a 5-Day Notice to the tenant. The 5-Day Notice must state that the tenant has five days to either pay the rent or give up the premises.
The 5-Day Notice is a prerequisite to filing for an eviction. If the Landlord has not served the 5-Day Notice prior to going to eviction court, the Judge will not grant the eviction. Therefore, correctly serving a 5-Day Notice is a critical step in the eviction process in Oklahoma.
What is the purpose of the 5-Day Notice in Oklahoma?
The purpose of the 5-day Notice to Cure (also called Notice to Quit) is to allow a Tenant to avoid lease termination by paying their rent. This is a last chance opportunity for the Tenant to keep their lease or rental agreement in tact. Otherwise, a Landlord is allowed to cancel the lease agreement if the Tenant fails to pay.
Oklahoma law requires the Landlord to give a Tenant a full five days of notice before cancelling the lease. However, once the five days has expired, the Landlord may ask the court for possession of the property and to direct the Sheriff to forcibly enter and remove the Tenant.
How to Serve a 5-Day Notice to Quit in Oklahoma
When it comes to filing lawsuits in Oklahoma, the party suing must notify the other party that is being sued. Basically, the law requires that if you sue someone, you must give them a copy of everything you are filing in court. This procedure of delivery copies of legal papers is called “service of process,” or simply “service.”
Similarly, when it comes to evictions, you must actually notify the other side before you even file the lawsuit. This is called giving “Notice,” and the notice must be “served” in a certain manner to be valid in the eyes of the law.
Oklahoma law has specific procedures that must be followed in order for a Landlord to be able to claim that proper notice was given to the Tenant. If the Landlord fails to follow these procedures, the Court will deny the eviction and the Landlord will have to start the process all over again.
There are only three ways that a Landlord may serve the 5-Day Notice to Quit on the Tenant.
Option 1: Serving the 5-Day Notice using Personal Service
The first way is called Personal service. This is the most preferred method of service when it comes to lawsuits, and the courts prefer this method. Personal Service simply means that you hand-delivered the papers to the person.
Typically, we use Private Process Servers to handle this type of service. A private process server will go out and find the Tenant, and hand-deliver the papers. Afterwards, the process server will type up a statement that explains where and what time he delivered the papers. The Process Server will sign and notarize the statement, and then file it in Court.
Because a 5-Day Notice to Quit is usually served prior to filing the eviction, the Process Server may simply give it to the Landlord, and the Landlord can show it to the judge if the case goes to court.
Option 2: Serving the 5-Day Notice on a Family Member
If you or your Process Server are unable to find and meet with the Tenant, then you may leave the 5-Day Notice with a family member that lives with the Tenant. The family member must be over the age of 12, and must live at the rental property with the Tenant.
Option 3: Serving the 5-Day Notice by Posting on the Door
If no one is home at the property, then there is one final way to achieve service of the 5-Day Notice, and that involves posting it on the door, or on the premises in a conspicuous place. The phrase “conspicuous place” simply means somewhere clearly visible for the tenant to see.
However, there is one additional step you must take that will make or break you — legally — if you choose this method. Do not screw this up.
If you choose to use this method of service — posting on the door — then you must also send a copy to the tenant by certified mail. You will want to keep both a copy of the Notice, and a copy of the certified mail return receipt, so that you can show the judge that you followed the procedures correctly.
If you only post on the door, but do not also send a copy to the tenant by U.S. mail, return receipt requested, the Court will not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear your case and you will automatically lose the eviction lawsuit.
Hiring a lawyer to draft and serve your 5-Day Notice on your Tenant
If you would like us to do everything for you, we can certainly do that. We only represent landlords in eviction matters, and we handle everything start to finish.
We normally complete the entire eviction process in two weeks. That includes serving the notice, filing the eviction lawsuit, serving the summons for the eviction lawsuit, appearing in court, obtaining a court order or judgment, and then obtain the Writ of Assistance to have the Sheriff forcibly eject the Tenant.
If you would like to talk to our office about your case, please complete this form or call us at 405-724-8112.