Can you evict a tenant in Oklahoma if they breach the terms of the rental agreement?
Yes. In Oklahoma, you may evict a tenant if the tenant:
- Breaches a material term of the lease;
- Violates the rental property’s Rules & Regulations;
- Causes damage to the property or harms another person on the property.
However, there are certain legal procedures that must be followed in order for the Court to grant the eviction and oust the tenant. This article will explain those procedures. First, we will cover the differences and similarities between lease violations, rule violations, and property damage.
Noncompliance with Rental Agreement or with Tenant Responsibilities
A tenant must follow certain rules when renting a property. Some of those rules are set in stone by law, and others are contained in the lease agreement. Other rules may be posted in common areas, such as a swimming pool or laundry room.
Tenant’s Duties under Oklahoma Law
Oklahoma law imposes certain duties on Tenants. 41 O.S. § 127. Those legal duties include:
- Keeping the property safe, clean and sanitary
- Specifically keeping all plumbing fixtures safe, clean, and sanitary
- Disposing of all garbage on a regular basis
- Not deliberately damage or destroy the property
- Not engaging in criminal activity that the health, safety, and peaceful enjoyment of the other tenants
If a tenant violates these duties, there is a procedure for enforcing these on the tenant, which I will explain further, below.
Rules & Regulations of the Rental Property
In addition to the terms of the lease, Landlords may also impose other rules and conditions that govern tenant conduct on the rental property. Some of these terms may be in the written lease. Other rules could be provided in a separate document or posted on the property.
Whether a rule is in the lease agreement, or is a separate “rule and regulation” provided in a separate document, really doesn’t make a difference, legally speaking. The process for enforcing these rules is the same as enforcing the Lease.
How to Enforce the Lease terms, and Rules & Regulations?
Do you have a tenant that has done any of the following:
- Violated the terms of the lease;
- Violated the Rules & Regulations of the rental property; or
- Failed to perform his or her legal duties
If the answer is yes, you will need to take the follow steps to enforce your rights as a Landlord in Oklahoma.
First, you must notify the Tenant of the problem. You must explain what they did wrong, and what they need to do to fix the problem. You must describe the situation, so that it is clear to all parties what is wrong, and how it can be fixed.
For example, if the tenant failed to take their trash cans to the curb, and trash is accumulating on the property, you must describe the situation and demand they remove the trash immediately.
Further, you must do all of this according to Oklahoma landlord tenant law, which requires the following:
- Send the Tenant written notice specifying the acts or omissions constituting noncompliance with the law, lease, or rules;
- The notice must state that the Tenant has 10 days to cure the problem, or the lease terminates on Day 15.
- Serve the notice personally to the Tenant, or post it on the Tenant’s door and send a copy by certified mail to the Tenant.
How to evict a tenant for breaching the lease?
To evict a tenant for breaching a term in the lease, or for failure to make repairs or comply with other Tenant obligations, a Landlord must do take the following steps, described below
Serve the 15-Day Notice of Termination
As soon as the Landlord is aware of the tenant’s noncompliance with Tenant obligations, the Landlord must send a 15-Day Notice of Termination. This notice will specifically described the Tenant’s conduct that amounts to a violation of the lease terms, or of Oklahoma Landlord Tenant law.
This particular Notice must also state that the rental agreement will be terminated in 15 days if the Tenant does not cure the violation or fix the problem within ten days of receiving the notice.
This notice must be served (delivered) in the same way as a 5-Day Notice to Quit for nonpayment of rent. There are three ways to serve these legal notices:
- Hand-delivery to the Tenant
- Hand-delivery to a person over 12 that lives with the Tenant
- Post the Notice on the door, and send a copy by certified mail to the Tenant.
If you choose to perform these services yourself, be sure to keep documentation proving the date of service. If you post service, then keep all certified mail receipts. Be ready to testify to these dates when you go before the judge.
Otherwise, you may hire my law office to perform these tasks for you.
File the Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer
Fifteen days after the Notice has been served, you can ask the Court to evict the tenant. You will have to file your Petition, serve it along with a Summons from the Court Clerk, on the tenant in the same manner as you did with your 15-Day Notice.
Your hearing must be at least fifteen days after the Tenant received notice of the lease violations. At the hearing, you will have to prove service of the Notice, as well as Summons and Petition, to the judge. This is just the procedural part. Next, you have to prove the merits of your case.
Proving the Tenant violated the Lease, or the Rules/Conditions of the Property
These types of evictions are harder to prove, because the facts are not as clear cut as whether a tenant paid the rent or not. When dealing with Rule violations or property damage, the facts can be disputed. Quite often, these types of cases are hotly contested.
The reason is that Tenant’s may dispute they violated a rule, depending on what the type of rule at issue. Other times, a Tenant may dispute property damage as being pre-existing. So how does a Landlord win these types of evictions?
Document everything. The condition of the property. The rules of the property. And be sure to document the Tenant’s knowledge of the rules, conditions, lease terms. All you have to do is present these documents to the Tenant at the time of move-in, and obtain the Tenant’s signature.
If new rules are created later on, then the Landlord should notify the tenant in writing and again obtain a signature.
Hire Oklahoma City Eviction Lawyer
If you need help with any of this, call my office at (405) 724-8112. Or send us an email. I only represent Landlords, and I have a passion for real estate and property management. I would love to meet you, work for you, and provide valuable legal services for your rental property business.