In this series of articles, we have discussed the differences between commercial leases and residential leases, as well as the necessity of having written leases in commercial deals.

In this article, we will discuss what to do when the deal goes bad, and the commercial Landlord must evict the commercial tenant.

Commercial Evictions: Must Determine the Parties with liability to the Landlord

First, determine the parties. At our office, we get calls from real estate investors who invest all over the country, in a variety of business entity structures. Some are closely held deals, and others are limited partnerships with investors participating in a syndication.

Therefore, our investor client may not be the landlord in this case he or she is calling us about. Instead, it is more likely to a legal entity that he or she owns or manages.

When dealing with a specific property, the first matter of business is identifying the landlord entity, and the legally obligated Tenant entity. Also of importance is any guarantor on the lease, who may be liable for any amounts of money owed, such as rent, damages, interest, attorney fees, litigation expenses, etc.

Commercial Evictions: determine the status of the rental agreement

Is this a tenancy at will, or does a written lease agreement exist and control the rights and obligations of the parties? This will need to be determined.

If there is no written lease, Oklahoma law presumes it to be a tenancy-at-will, which is a fancy way of saying month-to-month tenancy. In a tenancy-at-will, the Landlord must provide thirty days notice to cancel the lease.

Determine the reason for the eviction

After we’ve identified the Landlord and Tenant entities, and the status of the leasehold interests, we now must establish a basis for the eviction.

The simplest is failure to pay rent. But other reasons could be numerous. The lease could state that any breach of any clause within the lease could be a reason for eviction.

The most important thing for a commercial landlord to remember is this: do not attempt to evict your tenant without first going through the forcible entry and detainer process with the local district court. If you do not first go through the courts, you will be breaking the law, and you may be liable to the tenant if they choose to bring suit.

I primarily represent landlords in commercial evictions, but I have also represented tenants when they have been illegally shut out from their businesses by a landlord that was too impatient to go through the courts. The result is that we get back into the property, and we now have a claim against the landlord for lost profits for every day the tenant’s business was shut down.

The lesson is to always pursue an eviction through the courts. By working with the right eviction lawyer, this process can go quite smoothly.

The Legal Process for a Commercial Eviction in Oklahoma

The Commercial Landlord must provide written notice of intent to evict to the commercial tenant. However, the form of the notice depends on how far behind the tenant is with their rental payments. If the tenant is less than three months behind on rent, the Landlord need only provide five days notice to pay or surrender possession. However, if the tenant is more than three months behind on their rent, then the landlord must provide ten days notice to the commercial tenant. This notice must be in writing, and it must be served on the tenant, in accordance with Oklahoma rules for serving notices between landlords and tenants.

The notice must state the reason for cancellation of the lease and must give the tenant notice that it has either five or ten days to cure the default or the lease will be cancelled.

Thereafter, if the Tenant does not cure the default in that 5-day or 10-day time-frame, the landlord may file the eviction lawsuit and ask the court to award possession of the premises back to the Landlord.

In this event, the Landlord may also ask the Court to employ the assistance of the Sheriff to execute a “lock out” on the premises.

Any lawsuit for damages, attorney fees, interest on the debt, etc, can be brought separately, and does not need to be rushed on the same tight schedule as the forcible entry and detainer lawsuit, which is the mechanism for getting possession of the property.

Contact OKC’s Commercial Landlord Lawyer, Travis Charles Smith

Travis Charles Smith has been working for commercial property landlords and real estate investors since 2009. Travis has been involved in major disputes and litigation involving everything from asset receivership litigation to construction liens to Chapter 11 bankruptcy adversary proceedings.

Travis represents real estate investors in commercial property evictions, and in litigation over rent collection, lease disputes, and asset seizures.

Travis can help you do any of the following:

  • Evict a commercial tenant,
  • Sue to collect rents due,
  • Enforce Landlord Liens against Tenant property, equipment or inventory
  • Defend you against Mechanic’s Liens or contractor lawsuits

Travis is himself an experienced real estate investor, both in syndicated limited partnerships as well as in privately held portfolio.

Hire Travis Charles Smith to protect your assets and your cash flow. Call the office at (405) 724-8112 or send us an email to schedule a consultation. Our office provides consultations over the phone, by video conferencing, or at our office in downtown OKC.