A positive relationship between landlord and tenant occurs when communication is businesslike and both parties understand and abide by their duties. But far too often, that relationship is strained or breaks down completely.
Landlords may need to evict tenants who damage property or do not pay their rent. Tenants may want to protest unacceptable living conditions and have them repaired, or else terminate their lease. This is where a responsible real estate attorney can provide assistance. When a dispute arises, an Altus landlord-tenant lawyer will assess your options under Oklahoma law and guide you to the best possible resolution.
The Landlord-Tenant Act
Oklahoma’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Act spells out the parties’ obligations to a residential lease, so there is no question about what each of them must provide for a successful relationship.
The law can be complicated to understand because different rules apply to different rental terms. When a landlord wishes to terminate a tenancy, it matters whether the tenancy is month-to-month, at will, or is bound by a yearly lease.
A tenancy is automatically terminated at the end of a lease, without further notice, but a month-to-month tenancy must be terminated (by either party) with 30 days’ written notice. Tenancies that are less than month-to-month require seven days’ written notice to terminate. An Altus landlord-tenant attorney can provide more detailed information about a particular situation.
What Happens When a Tenant Will Not Leave?
If the landlord agrees that the tenant can stay at the end of a lease, a month-to-month tenancy is created unless the parties negotiate a longer lease. Tenants who refuse to give up possession of a property after a landlord has given notice to vacate may face legal action for possession and damages. This action is referred to as an Entry and Detainer, whereby the Court would direct the tenant to vacate the property by a certain date.
House Bill Updates Parts of Landlord-Tenant Act
The Legislature also tweaks the law when warranted, as they do with House Bill 3409, effective November 1, 2022. The bill changed the law that existed since the late 1970s, in which tenants could only deduct $100 from their rent if they made essential repairs to the property, no matter the cost of those repairs.
In the updated version, tenants must give written notice to landlords detailing repairs that landlords should make within 14 days. If a landlord does not make the essential repairs, the tenant can make them and deduct the cost from up to one month’s rent.
The repairs must directly affect health and safety. For instance, a tenant can alert a landlord about a broken furnace in the winter as a health issue, but alerting the landlord that paint is chipping from a wall may not be. Landlords must maintain a habitable space that includes:
- Roofs that do not leak, or are repaired when they do
- No health hazards like mold and asbestos
- Reasonable security measures
- Adequate heating
- Water and electricity
Before relations between landlords and tenants become hostile over repairs or rent, contact a local landlord-tenant attorney to seek a solution.
Importance of a Written Rental Agreement
Communication is key. Rental agreements benefit both the landlord and tenant by clearly setting out each parties’ rights and obligations. Tenants do not have to worry if the rent will be raised arbitrarily or if they will have to move on a whim. They will also know how security deposits are allocated and when they will be returned.
Landlords can hold tenants accountable for how many people will live on the premises and if the tenant is responsible for utilities and mowing the lawn. Every detail should be memorialized. Without a rental agreement and a landlord agreeing to create a tenancy, a renter could be subjected to being kicked out without an eviction proceeding.
Contact an Altus Landlord-Tenant Attorney to Facilitate Good Relations
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, complying with Oklahoma law is essential for a healthy business relationship. The same can be said for a written rental agreement. Both parties gain peace of mind when they understand their responsibilities to each other, as a landlord’s business runs smoothly and a tenant gains a home.
Call our Altus landlord-tenant lawyers if you are a landlord needing an airtight rental agreement or a tenant needing one reviewed before signing. We are waiting to hear from you.