This is the next article in our series on Oklahoma Commercial Landlord Tenant Law.  The last article discussed the process of evicting a commercial tenant where there is no lease.  To reiterate, an Oklahoma commercial tenancy without a lease can be terminated by serving a 30-day notice on the tenant (Title 41-§4).  But if the tenant is behind on rent you may not have to wait for the whole 30 days and serve a 5-day or 10-day notice to quit instead (Title 41-§6/§7).

In this article, we will talk about the major differences between a residential and a commercial lease.  Although both types of tenancies are covered under Title 41, Landlord and Tenant Section, of Oklahoma Statutes, separate sets of laws govern each scenario (Title 41 §1-§201).  Because of this, it’s critical to first determine the type of tenancy before following the law.

Differences between residential and commercial property

The first part of Title 41 under the Landlord and Tenant portion, namely from §1-§61, covers the commercial side of the landlord-tenant relationship.  A commercial rental property is any land or building that is rented or leased to a tenant for non-residential purposes, the rental agreement of which is not regulated by the Residential Landlord Tenant Act (Title 41-§51).  This includes establishments like manufacturing facilities, warehouses, restaurants, retail shops, and office spaces.

The second part of Title 41 under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, namely from §101-§201, covers the residential side of the landlord-tenant relationship.  A residential property is a dwelling unit like an apartment or a house, that is used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by the tenant (Title 41-§102).  It includes a space or lot leased to an owner of a mobile or manufactured home.  In short, residential property is a unit leased for living purposes as opposed to a business or commercial purpose.

Difference between residential and commercial lease: notice requirements

Notices are an essential part of Oklahoma landlord-tenant law.  For instance, they can be used by the tenant to notify the landlord of any issues concerning the rental unit, or by the landlord asking the tenant to rectify certain violations.  At any rate, a notice in writing helps preserve evidence that can be used at the hearing if the matter ends up in court.  Although some notices are similar, it’s important to ensure that the correct notice is served to enforce rights and duties under the law.

The 30-day written notice to quit is the same for a residential or a commercial tenancy when there is no lease agreement.  The absence of a lease automatically creates an at-will tenancy (month to month), allowing either party to terminate the tenancy by serving the notice to another and waiting for 30 days.

There is a separate notice requirement if the rent is past due.  If a commercial tenant is behind on rent for less than three months, the landlord may serve a 5-day written notice to quit, or a 10-day written notice if behind for three months or more (Title 41 §6-§7).  On the other hand, if a residential tenant is behind on rent you must serve a 5-day notice to quit (Title 41 §131).  These notices inform the tenant that they have 5 or 10 days to pay the rent or vacate the premises.  In both the residential and commercial setting if the tenant fails to cure the issue by paying in full within the allotted time, you may file for eviction.

Let’s discuss the tenant’s non-compliance with the rental agreement.  Oklahoma residential landlord and tenant laws are more detailed and exhaustive compared to their commercial counterpart.  The commercial side of the law does not speak in depth on notice requirements when there is a lease violation.  This is why it’s crucial to reduce commercial lease terms in writing at the outset to avoid future confusion.  Notice requirements for a commercial lease are covered under the rental agreement, and you should look there for guidance.  On the other hand, the law is clear in the case of a residential situation.  A landlord must serve a 15-day notice to the tenant outlining the violation.  If the issue is not resolved by the tenant in 10 days, the lease terminates in 15 days allowing you to file for eviction action (Title 41 §131).

How about the landlord’s non-compliance with the rental agreement?  In commercial situations, the notice requirement is covered by the lease agreement.  If there is material non-compliance by a residential landlord with the terms of the rental agreement, or if he fails to provide a habitable living unit, a tenant may serve a 30-day notice.  The lease terminates in 30 days if the landlord fails to resolve the issue within 14 days (Title 41 §121).

Tenancy after the lease term expires: tenant stays after lease expiration

If the commercial lease has a specific expiration date, then the tenancy terminates on that day and no further notice is required (Title 41 §8).  The same rule applies to a residential tenancy as well (Title 41 §111).  No notice is required and you may begin eviction proceedings immediately.  Be aware, however, that if you accept rent after the lease expires a new month-to-month tenancy may be created.

If the commercial tenancy is for a time that is less than a year (ex. 6 months) and you accept rent after expiration, then the lease renews for another term (ex. 6 months) (Title 41 §35).  On the residential side, a tenant who stays after lease termination but with the landlord’s consent creates a month-to-month tenancy.

But, if the commercial tenancy is for a term of one year or more (ex. 18 months) and you accept rent after expiration, then a new month-to-month tenancy is created (Title 41 §2).  On the residential side, a new month-to-month tenancy is created if the tenant stays with the landlord’s consent after lease termination (Title 41 §111).  This is true for tenancies for a definite term regardless of whether it’s for a year or less.

Hire Niroula Law to take care of Commercial Eviction matters

We are well-versed in Oklahoma Commercial Landlord Tenant Law and have helped many Oklahoma Landlords with tenant issues.  If you need help in such matters, we are here to assist you.  We handle the entire process from start to finish – including serving the notice, serving the summons, attending the hearing, and filing the Sheriff’s Writ.  Contact us online or by telephone to reach out to an Oklahoma real estate law firm to speak to a landlord-tenant attorney.