The information in this page is provided as a free resource for renters in Oklahoma. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice or additional legal help, contact https://www.legalaidok.org/i-am-being-evicted-what-can-i-do/.

Does Oklahoma have “rent control?”

Rent is not regulated in Oklahoma. This means that the only limit on how much a landlord in Oklahoma can charge for rent is what people are willing to pay. This is sometimes called a “market rate.”

What does it mean to have a “safe, habitable” place to live in Oklahoma?

A landlord must:

  • Keep any common areas of the building, grounds, and facilities in a clean, safe and sanitary condition
  • Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the dwelling unit and premises in a fit and habitable condition
  • Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord
  • Except in the case of one- or two-family residences or where provided by a governmental entity, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for the frequent removal of those wastes
  • Except in the case of a single-family residence or where the service is supplied by direct and independently metered utility connections to the dwelling unit, supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat.

Elevators

The landlord must maintain in good and safe working order elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord

Heat and Air Conditioning

The landlord must supply reasonable heat.

Hot Water

The landlord must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water.

Does my landlord have to provide smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in Oklahoma?

The landlord must install smoke detectors in accordance with nationally recognized standards and must explain to the tenant the method of testing the smoke detector to ensure that it is in working order. The responsibility for checking a smoke detector to find out whether such detector is in working order is with the tenant. Carbon monoxide alarms are required in newly constructed or renovated one and two-family dwellings containing a carbon-based-fueled appliance or device that produces by-products of combustion or an attached garage. Carbon monoxide alarms are required in new and existing multi-family dwellings, dormitories, hotels, and motels containing a carbon-based-fueled appliance or device that produces by-products of combustion or an attached garage.

How long does my landlord have to fix problems at my apartment in Oklahoma?

Usually that depends on how severe the problem is. A landlord must make repairs as promptly as conditions require in the case of an emergency. Once a landlord receives written notice, they have 14 days to begin repairs.

In Oklahoma there are specific rules for pest-issues. No timeline for pest issues except to the extent pests constitute a habitability issue, or is a violation of the terms of the lease.

What can I do if my landlord can’t or won’t fix problems at my apartment in Oklahoma?

Rent Abatement

If the landlord willfully or negligently fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas or other essential service, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and thereafter may procure reasonable amounts of heat, hot water, running water, electric, gas or other essential service during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent

Repair and Deduct

If the reasonable cost of the repair is equal to or less than one month’s rent, the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of his or her intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense after the expiration of 14 days. If the landlord fails to comply within those 14 days, or as promptly as conditions require in the case of an emergency, the tenant may have the repair done and, after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement, deduct from their rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work.

Vacate

If the landlord willfully or negligently fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas or other essential service, the tenant may upon written notice, procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance.

Sue

If the landlord fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas or other essential service, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and after that may sue the landlord to recover damages based upon the decrease of the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.

What are the rules for security deposits in Oklahoma, and how do I get my security deposit refunded?

Any security deposit held by the landlord may be applied to the payment of accrued rent and the amount of damages which the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with their legal duties or breach of the rental agreement, all as itemized by the landlord in a written statement delivered to the tenant. Security deposits must be returned to tenant within 45 days.

What kinds of notice does my landlord need to give me in Oklahoma?

Eviction

  • If the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must give 5 days’ notice before terminating the rental agreement. The notice may be given before or after the landlord files a lawsuit to recover unpaid rent.
  • If the tenant breaches the rental agreement or fails to comply with their legal duties, the landlord must provide written notice detailing the breach and stating that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than 15 days after receipt of the notice unless remedied within 10 days. If within the 10 days the tenant adequately remedies the breach complained of, the rental agreement shall not terminate by reason of the breach. Any later breach by the tenant allows the landlord to provide written notice that the lease is terminating immediately.

Condition

  • Before the rental agreement starts, if a landlord knows or has reason to know that the dwelling unit or any part of the premises was used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, the landlord shall disclose this information to a prospective tenant, unless the landlord has had the contamination level tested and it’s below certain amounts.
  • If the premises to be rented has been flooded within the past five (5) years and such fact is known to the landlord, the landlord shall include such information prominently and in writing as part of any written rental agreement.

Rent Increases

Oklahoma landlords can raise the rent for any reason that isn’t discriminatory. However, Oklahoma law requires landlords to act in good faith and should therefore give the tenant reasonable notice (for example, 30 days) when increasing rent.

Renewal

If there is no lease agreement or the tenancy is month to month, the landlord must give a tenant 30-day notice before the tenant must move out. If the tenancy is for a definite term (like one year), the tenancy expires automatically at the end of the term without notice. If the tenancy is less than month-to-month, the landlord must give the tenant 7 days notice before the tenant must move out.

Entry

Except in case of emergency or unless it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least one (1) day notice of his intent to enter and may enter only at reasonable times. If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or harasses the tenant by making repeated unreasonable demands for entry, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of the conduct or, upon written notice, terminate the rental agreement. In either case the tenant may recover actual damages.

Other Required Notices in Oklahoma

If the tenant breaches the rental agreement or fails to comply with their legal duties, and that failure can be repaired, the landlord must give 10 days written notice demanding that the breach be remedied. If the tenant fails to make the repair, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit and cause the work to be done then submit the itemized bill for the actual and reasonable cost as rent on the next date rent is due, or if the rental agreement has terminated, for immediate payment.

Can I end my lease early in Oklahoma?

If something comes up in your life, you may find that you need to end your lease early. This can be stressful and very expensive, with most leases including steep penalties and fines for early termination. Here are some potential options.

Military

If you’re active military, you may be able to terminate your lease early under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides certain protections for active-duty military members, including the right to terminate a lease early if you receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or deployment. To terminate your lease early under the SCRA, you must provide your landlord with written notice and a copy of your orders. The notice must be provided at least 30 days before the date on which you intend to terminate the lease.

Seniors and Those with a Disability

A landlord shall not deny or terminate a tenancy to a blind, deaf, or physically handicapped person because of the guide, signal, or service dog of such person unless such dogs are specifically prohibited in the rental agreement entered into prior to November 1, 1985.

Survivors of Domestic Violence

A victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking may terminate a lease without penalty by providing written notice and a protective order of an incident of such violence within thirty (30) days of such incident, unless the landlord waives the time period.  A landlord shall not deny, refuse to renew or terminate a tenancy because the applicant, tenant or member of the household is a victim or alleged victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking regardless of whether there exists a current protective order. A landlord shall not deny a tenancy or retaliate against a tenant because the applicant or tenant has previously terminated a rental agreement because the applicant or tenant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking.

What should I know about eviction in Oklahoma?

For some issues, the renter has the right to fix the situation before the rental agreement is terminated. You may avoid eviction by providing a sufficient defense. The most common examples are:

  • Retaliatory Eviction: this is the claim that the landlord is only going through the eviction process because the tenant called the minimum housing or “code enforcement” office, organized a tenants’ union, or took some other action to protect their rights as a tenant.
  • Discrimination: this is the claim that the landlord is only going through the eviction process because of the tenant’s race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, physical handicap, or other discriminatory reasons. It is also illegal to discriminate against people because they have children.
  • Improper Procedure: this is the claim that the landlord failed to take all the appropriate steps in the eviction process, such as providing the appropriate notice at the appropriate time.

What can I do if my landlord harasses me or discriminates against me in Oklahoma?

Under Oklahoma fair housing laws, a landlord can’t discriminate in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), disability, or age.

A landlord can’t use their right of access to harass the tenant.

SixFifty can help!

Now that you know your rights as a renter in Oklahoma, what can you do? Take action! SixFifty built HelloLandlord with the University of Arizona and Brigham Young University as a free resource for people who can’t afford legal help. You can use HelloLandlord to:

Tens of thousands of Americans have used HelloLandlord to assert their rights. It only takes 5 minutes to generate a high-quality letter—the kind of letter a lawyer would write. And we offer discount codes so you can send your letter by mail, right from your computer.

SixFifty is building more tools to help renters all the time. For more information, email probono@sixfifty.com.

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