If you are an Oklahoma property manager or a landlord who is seeking to initiate an eviction action, there are several key things you must consider before you file the action. The eviction process must adhere to strict rules such as notice requirements, service requirements, and hearing requirements, among other things. Failure to comply with the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act may result in your case being dismissed, costing you needless time and money. To assist you in the process, we have compiled 5 key things that you must consider before filing an eviction action in Oklahoma.

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#1. Comply with the notice requirements: You must follow the law under the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act when you seek to evict someone. Failure to comply with the law will cause your case to be dismissed. You may not evict someone unless the lease or the tenancy has been terminated. To do so, you must serve proper notice to the tenant. Depending on the situation there are several types of notices you can serve on a tenant.

If the tenancy is a month-to-month, then you must serve a 30-day notice to terminate and wait for 30 days before you file for eviction. It’s important to note that you must follow specific rules when you serve this notice to the tenant. Many landlords mess this part up, and when the judge finds out that the notice is defective, the case is simply dismissed.

There are three different ways you may serve a 30-day notice to terminate a tenancy. First, you may serve the notice to the tenant in person, meaning that you hand him the notice. Second, if you are unable to locate the tenant, you may deliver the notice to a family member over the age of 12 who lives with the tenant. Third, if unable to perform either of the above two methods, you may post the notice at the property where it is easily visible.

But keep in mind, if you are posting the notice at the property, you must also mail it to the tenant via certified mail – if you don’t, the judge will dismiss your case due to defective notice.

Regardless of the type of tenancy, if the tenant is currently delinquent in rent, meaning that the rent is unpaid when due, you must serve a 5-day notice to pay on the tenant. What this does is that it gives the tenant 5 day time period to cure the back-rent and make good on the past due rent. Failure to pay the due amount within the 5-day period will terminate the lease, and you may initiate an eviction action. In the case of the 5-day notice, it’s a good practice to follow one of the three service methods listed above in the 30-day notice section to ensure the service is proper.

#2. Have proper documentation: You may have a hard time proving your case to the judge, at the hearing, if you don’t have proper documents. A written lease is not required to form a tenancy under the law. However, if there is a lease agreement signed by both parties, it’s important to have that with you. Judges will often ask you questions involving issues that are usually outlined in a lease, or they may simply ask to look at the lease. Similarly, it’s important to keep documentation of all lease violations, even more so if it’s the basis for the eviction proceeding.

If you keep an account ledger for the particular tenant, it’s a good idea to bring that with you to the hearing. Such a ledger is oftentimes used in court to show that the rent has not been paid. Similarly, if there has been a change in the way payments were made, bring all the correspondence between you and the tenant that outlines the new payment instructions. This is crucial if there has been a recent change in ownership and the tenant argues that he or she had no instructions on how to pay rent to the new landlord.

#3. Potential defenses by the tenant: It is fairly common for a tenant to bring up defenses during an eviction proceeding. Which is why it’s important to be prepared for such arguments. Some of the defenses that the tenants may make include failure to make necessary repairs, uninhabitable property, unexpected rent increases, or loss of employment, among other things.

If the tenant is bringing up these issues for the very first time, and you were never notified about them, you’d simply tell the judge that these issues were never reported. Similarly, if the rent increase falls within the parameters as outlined in the lease agreement, simply show the provision to the judge.

#4. Follow the necessary steps: To achieve favorable results from an eviction action, you must follow the proper steps. Failure to take necessary steps may prolong the proceeding costing you needless time and money.

To successfully complete an eviction proceeding in Oklahoma, you must:

  1. Serve a proper notice on the tenant,
  2. File a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED), eviction action,
  3. Serve the Petition and Summons on the tenant,
  4. Attend the eviction hearing,
  5. File the Sheriff’s Writ of Assistance.

#5. Alternative resolution: Eviction isn’t always the best option, and there may be an alternative route that can help resolve the issues between the landlord and the tenant. Oftentimes, these routes may be a better fit given the specifics of your situation, in turn saving you a lot of time, money, and energy. Before pursuing eviction, you must carefully consider the consequences and make sure that it is the best course of action for all parties.

OKC Eviction Attorney: Landlord Tenant Lawyer Oklahoma City

Many eviction cases are pretty straightforward, and you may not even need a lawyer’s assistance. However, a simple mistake, such as a defective notice, can cause the judge to throw out your case costing you needless time and money. Don’t bet your eviction case on pure chance, let us assist you to get the results you deserve.

We will help you navigate the eviction process every step of the way, and take care of the entire process – from serving the notice, filing the lawsuit, serving of petition, attending the hearing, and filing the Sheriff’s Writ. You can reach out to us by calling our office at (405) 456-9250, or by filling out the Contact Us Form.