Do you need to file for eviction in Oklahoma? This article will explain the legal process of evicting a tenant, and how to file an eviction properly in Oklahoma Courts.
Why file for eviction in Oklahoma?
There are several reasons why you would file for eviction. It could be that your lease has ended, but the tenant did not vacate on the day of expiration. Or it could be that the tenant caused serious damage to the property or violated the law. Or it could be for the most common reason of all: failure to pay rent.
The most frequent reason for filing for eviction in Oklahoma is because the tenant failed to pay rent on time. And that failure to pay rent gives the landlord legal authority to cancel the lease contract. 41 O.S. § 131.
Before Filing for Eviction, Give the Tenant Notice
In Oklahoma, there are certain notice requirements that you must perform in order to legally file for eviction. The type of notice you must give will depend on your particular reason for the eviction. Take for example the situation where a tenant fails to move out when the lease expires.
When a tenant stays past the expiration of the lease, that tenant is “holding over.” You may evict “Hold-over” tenants without notice. 41 O.S. § 111(D). The reason is that your written lease already gave notice to the tenant of when they had to move out. The lease itself is a form of notice. So in this situation, you may legally file for eviction the day after the lease expires.
However, you must provide notice if you are attempting to cancel a lease because the tenant failed to pay on time. In that situation, you must serve a 5-Day Notice to Quit before filing your eviction. This is very important, because if you are filing for eviction on the basis of delinquent rent, the Court will not have jurisdiction to hear your case unless you first gave the tenant the required 5-Day Notice.
How to File for Eviction in Oklahoma, Step-by-Step
If you are a landlord that needs to file an eviction in Oklahoma, follow these steps correctly effectuate a proper eviction.
Prerequisites: Things you must do before filing an eviction
First, you must have a valid reason to file an eviction. You cannot just evict a tenant without have a legal basis to do so. Remember, a leasehold interest (or a tenancy) is a possessory right to real estate. It is a right that has been conveyed from the owner of the property to a lessee or tenant. So you can’t just kick out a person with a valid lease unless there is an exception to the lease or specific legal authority to cancel it.
Here is a list of reasons that would allow you to evict a tenant:
- Tenant failed to pay rent on time
- Tenant participated in or allowed criminal activity that threatened health, safety, and peace of other tenants.
- Tenant violated the landlord’s rules and regulations
- Tenant caused damage to the property
- Tenant refused to allow Landlord access to make repairs
Next, you must give the Tenant notice of your reason for eviction. This is a very important prerequisite to filing for eviction, as the Notice requirement gives Jurisdiction to the court to hear your eviction case.
You may review this article on the different types of eviction notices, and match up your situation to the correct type of notice you must give your tenant.
Filing the Eviction Lawsuit in Court
After you have given notice to your Tenant, you may then file your eviction lawsuit. You will need the following:
- Journal Entry
- Military Affidavit
- Writ of Execution.
First, you will draft a petition. This basically says you are the owner, the tenant failed to pay rent (or other reason for eviction), and you gave the tenant the proper notice.
Next, you will prepare a Summons, and have the court clerk “issue” it, by stamping it with a seal. You now must serve the Petition and Summons, in the same manner that you served your Notice, meaning by personal delivery or by posting and certified mail. Read this article for specific details on serving a 5-Day Notice.
You must appear at the Eviction hearing
There is a court date written on your Summons. You must show up to court on that date.
When you show up to court, there are two types of situations. One is that the tenant shows up, ready to argue. The other situation, which we will discuss first, is what happens if the tenant does not appear in court.
What happens if the Tenant does not show up to eviction court
If the tenant does not show up, you automatically win, so long as you can prove these four things:
- You properly served the tenant (and you have the proof) with a Notice
- You properly served the Tenant with the eviction lawsuit (Petition & Summons)
- You have proof of the underlying basis for the eviction (ledger showing past-due rent, etc).
- You have proof the person is not a member of the military
The judge will call the parties, and if you are the only party to appear, you will get to show the judge all of the documents listed above. After showing those documents, proving your case, the Judge grant judgment for you of Forcible Entry and Detention.
You must draft and prepare a Journal Entry for the judge to sign.
What happens if the Tenant shows up to Eviction Court?
If the Tenant does show up, then you don’t have to prove two of the four things on the list above.
By showing up, the Tenant concedes to having received the Summons (and notice to appear in eviction court). So you don’t have to show proof of serving the eviction lawsuit. You also don’t have to prove their military status, as their own appearance in court proves they are not away on active duty military leave.
However, you must still prove that you served the Notice to Quit. So keep your Certified Mail receipts, keep a copy of the notice, and be prepared to either show the certified mail or testify that you hand-delivered the notice. And state the date you served it.
You will also have to prove the merits of your case, that is, the reason for the eviction and evidentiary proof that the tenant did in fact violate the law or default on the terms of the lease. If you are evicting the tenant for late rent, you must show the judge your bookkeeping ledger showing a past-due balance.
The Judge will then listen to the tenant’s side of the story. The Tenant will have to produce a valid reason for why the eviction should not be granted.
If the Judge grants the eviction, you will hand the judge your Journal Entry and the judge will sign it. Afterwards, you may then pay for a Writ of Execution at the Court Clerk’s office. Come back and show the judge that you paid for a Writ and the Judge will sign your Writ. You will then file it and leave two copies with the Sheriff for service and execution.
Hire an Eviction Lawyer for Help Evicting your Tenants
If you need an attorney to handle this for you, call our office at (405) 724-8112 or send us an email.