Being a property owner or a landlord in Oklahoma County comes with a plethora of benefits including a passive income source, investment diversification, property value appreciation, and equity build-up just to name a few. On the same token, these advantages are also accompanied by duties and responsibilities that you as a Landlord must perform in order to abide by the law and run the rental arrangement like you would any other business operation.

My name is Vivid Niroula, and I am a Landlord Lawyer based in Oklahoma City, we help OKC Landlords navigate all facets of Landlord-Tenant laws including eviction proceedings, rental agreements. and notice requirements. You can reach us by calling (405) 456-9250, emailing vivid@niroulalaw.com, or by filling out Contact Us Form on this website.

In the process of undertaking such responsibilities and duties, as a Landlord, you must be careful to not make these 5 common mistakes:

1. Not enforcing the lease terms: This is a simple rule but many Landlords seem to overlook it for whatever reasons. Maybe the Tenant is a friend of yours, or you have known the Tenant before entering into a Landlord-Tenant relationship, or the lease term violation seems like a minor one, whatever the reason may be, it’s a bad idea to let the Tenant slide and not enforce the lease terms. By doing so, not only you are setting a bad precedent for other Tenants, but you may lose your privilege of a shorter notice requirement if the matter ever needs to be addressed through a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) action. For example, if you are silent when your Tenant gets a new puppy despite the fact that the rental terms clearly state no pets are allowed, you simply gave up your right to serve a 15-day correct or quit notice. So, if the matter ever ends up in the eviction court, and you bring up the lease violation, you might have a hard time explaining to the judge why you didn’t object to the Tenant having a pet sooner. At any rate, if the Tenant violates a lease term, however minor, set and enforce the standard you want to be enforced.

2. Delaying eviction action: Another mistake lot of Landlords make is dragging their feet on filing an eviction action, also known as Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) action. If you are having a problem with the Tenant such as term violation or past due rent, the chances are the situation will likely get worse. It’s a good thing to have a positive outlook in life, however, if you would like to run the rental operation as a proper business, you must take steps before delaying eviction will cost you time and money. In most cases, you would first serve a notice on the Tenant, so the process does not even get to the court until after the proper notice has been served. The positive thing about the notice requirement is that most of the Landlord-Tenant issues are resolved during the notice phase and never make it to the court. However, if you would like to play the cards right and get ahead of the eviction game, it’s recommended that you promptly serve a written notice as a precursor to a future eviction action. For example, if a Tenant is habitually late on his rent, it’s a good idea to serve a written 5-day demand to pay notice next time he is behind on rent, that way if you need to evict him you are already ahead of the game.

3. Inadequate Tenant screening: Every Landlord has at some point made this mistake, finding out that they forgot to run an adequate background check on the Tenant. As tempting as it may sound to sign on a new Tenant and to start generating cashflow, not conducting an adequate tenant screening may cost you time and money in the future. It’s important to ask the pertinent questions and have the Tenants give you written permission to run their credit and criminal history. A timely Tenant screening before signing the lease will reveal any delinquent accounts, history of late payments, and eviction history giving you complete information on which you may base your final rental decision.

4. Lack of written lease terms: A written lease with agreement terms is only one of the ways that a rental contract can be formed. It’s important to note that a legally enforceable lease agreement can be created without ever writing anything down, which is very convenient. However, if there ever is a dispute as to the terms of the lease, it’s going to be an uphill battle trying to prove the terms you agreed to at the inception of the lease. A written lease will lay out the lease terms including the duration of the lease, the names of the renter, the number of residents allowed on the property, and the day rent is due every month, leaving little room for future disputes over agreement terms.

5. Not knowing Landlord responsibilities: Being a landlord comes with many duties and responsibilities, some are imposed by the law while others are by the rental terms. Either way, it’s important for Landlords to know their duties. Every Landlord has a duty to mitigate damages, for example, if a Tenant abandons a lease halfway into the lease term and leaves without notifying, you have a duty to attempt to rent the property to another person for the remaining lease term before going after the Tenant for the remaining month’s rent. Similarly, the Landlord must provide full possession of the premises to the tenant in compliance with the rental agreement and the Oklahoma Landlord-Tenant law. If you are unable to provide the full possession of the premises with working plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and appliances to the Tenant on the first day of the lease, the rent abates until such utilities are in working order – and the Tenant may terminate the lease by serving a written notice to the Landlord and demand all prepaid rent and deposits. These are only a few of the many Landlord duties owed to the Tenant stemming from the tenancy terms and under Oklahoma law. Knowing the Oklahoma Landlord-Tenant laws and your duties under the lease terms not only make you an informed Landlord but also will help you prevent a future loss of time, effort and money.