Why are Month to Month leases so common in Oklahoma?
Month-to-Month leases are very common in Oklahoma, for several reasons. One is that if a Tenant walks in one day, asks to rent the place, puts down the cash needed, and the Landlord lets him move in, there now exists a month to month rental agreement. The only way to avoid a month to month situation is to have a written lease executed by both parties prior to the tenant moving in.
So that is one reason that month-to-month leases are so common: they exist as a matter of default in the absence of a lease. And people get busy, landlords forget to collect that signature, the excuses go on and on. But if there is no signed lease, there is by default a “month to month” tenancy.
The other reason that month-to-month arrangements are so common and so frequently observed is that even if there is a written lease, a month to month lease will ensue if the written lease expires and the tenant continues paying rent.
Again, prevention is the best medicine and landlords are well advised to a proactive approach to discussing lease renewals before they expire, as opposed to reacting after the lease expires and the tenants continue paying rent, business as usual.
Legally Terminating a Month-to-Month Lease in Oklahoma
Why does any of this matter? Because there are certain steps that you must take to terminate a month to month rental agreement in Oklahoma. This article will explain those steps. But first, let me explain why all of this is necessary to begin with.
In a situation where there is a written lease between the Landlord and the Tenant, that document will determine when the lease ends. There will be an exact date of when it ends. And the very next day, if the tenant is still there, the Landlord may immediately file an eviction. No further notice is required, as the lease itself was the notice. The lease stated that the tenancy ends on this date. That is written notice.
However, when a tenant is renting from you on a month to month basis, every single month is a new lease term. Every time the tenant pays rent, he is renewing the lease for another month. So if you want to end your relationship with this tenant, you must follow these steps.
1) Landlord must give a 30-Day Notice to the Tenant
A Landlord must prepare a written statement that explains what date the Landlord is ending the month-to-month arrangement. The statement must give at least thirty (30) days notice to the Tenant. See Title 41, Okla. Stat. § 111(A).
Even if the Tenant fails to pay rent on time, the Landlord cannot terminate the lease unless the tenant fails to cure within five days. That means that a month-to-month tenant can fail to pay rent on time, receive a 5-Day Notice to Cure or Quit, but still get to retain possession if he pays within, say, four days. He has cured the default within five days.
Many Landlords will want to evict a tenant who pays late, but they actually cannot unless they give 30-days written notice.
2) Landlord must Serve the 30-Day Notice in a way that complies with Oklahoma law
This next step is also required by law, and must be followed to a T. After preparing the 30-day notice, there are certain ways it must be delivered. There are legal terms for delivering written notice to a tenant, and in Oklahoma we call that form of delivery “service,” or “serving notice.” Here is how to legally serve notice on your Tenant.
First, you can deliver it by handing it to the tenant. This is called “personal service,” and is what judges prefer the most. It easily avoids the issue of a tenant claiming they never received the notice. But this option is not always available. Perhaps you live far away. Perhaps the tenant is nowhere to be found. Move on to Option “B.”
The next option is to deliver the notice to a family member of the tenant that also lives on the property. There are two components to using this option:
- The family member must live with the tenant at the rental property;
- The family member must be over the age of twelve (12).
See Title 41, Okla. Stat. § 111(E).
But what if the Tenant is nowhere to be found, and no family members are home either? Then you may use the last and final option, which has the following steps:
- Post the Notice on the front door, or other obvious place, of the rental property;
- Send a copy by certified mail to the same rental address.
See Title 41, Okla. Stat. § 111(E).
These Steps Do Not Apply in the absence of a Rental Agreement
The above steps and legal requirements only apply if the Tenant had a rental agreement with the Landlord. Not necessarily a written lease, but just an agreement, or in other words, permission to be on the property. How do you know if there was such an agreement? Well, if the tenant was paying rent, and the landlord accepted the rent, then there is a rental agreement. Also, if the Landlord fails to take action, by either serving notices or filing for eviction, the Landlords tacit consent would also appear to evidence a rental agreement.
So even though you do not have a written lease, you still have a rental agreement, by default. It just happens to be an oral agreement, and the terms are month to month.
But what if you never even allowed the person to have possession at all?
If there is no agreement, then there is no notice requirement. See Title 41, Okla. Stat. § 111(G). That means that a Landlord may file for eviction in the court without giving any type of notice. This would apply to persons that never had a rental agreement, such as unauthorized roommates or family members. It would also apply to any person that just moved in and took possession. Maybe the parties were negotiating a potential lease agreement. But if no payment was made or accepted, and no authorization given, then no notice is required before filing for eviction.
Hire the Travis Charles Smith to Serve Notices and File Evictions
If you are a landlord, property manager, or real estate investor, then you have better things to do than worry about whether you filed the right paperwork to remove a troublesome tenant. Allow us to handle that for you. We represent landlords at every step of the process. We draft leases and notices of all types, and we have a team of paralegals and process servers ready to serve all required notices in a timely manner.
Our mission is to move as quickly as possible, to get the tenant out of the property, and get you back in control of your asset.
To get started today, simply complete this form or contact our office at (405) 724-8112.