Being a landlord comes with its own set of rules that you must follow. State laws dictate what you can and cannot do when housing tenants and investing in rental property, so it’s crucial that you remain informed. Below are some of the laws that you should know before buying property in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, there are a few different kinds of notices required when evicting a tenant. Landlords must provide a written notice that is easily viewable by the tenant they would like to evict. The type of notice required depends on the cause or basis of the eviction.
For instance, if the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must send a five-day notice to pay their rent or quit the unit. If the tenant violates another lease provision, the landlord must provide a notice of lease violation and allow the tenant 15 days to either cure their violation or move out. This type of notice is for lease violations besides nonpayment. Lastly, Oklahoma eviction laws dictate that if the tenant threatens harm to either the property or another person, the tenant can be evicted immediately via forcible entry and detainer action.
Tenant screening laws in Oklahoma uphold the federally protected classes. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability. Oklahoma also adds age into the list of protected classes.
Additionally, as a landlord in Oklahoma, you may run background checks on potential tenants. However, you should follow the HUD guidelines for using these background checks fairly. Only deny an applicant when their criminal history shows that they may pose a risk to the safety of those around them, and assess applicants on a case-by-case basis rather than using blanket policies for denying them. Using an Oklahoma criminal background check can be useful to make sure you aren’t accepting a tenant who could pose a threat to their neighbors or to the property. However, it’s easy to subconsciously have biases against those with prior convictions, so use the information you find in background checks wisely.
Something to note for tenants with disabilities is that if they have a service or assistance animal, they have a right to keep that animal on the premises free of charge. However, the landlord can request to see documentation proving the tenant’s need for a service animal if this is not readily apparent.
You should always assume that you are going to return security deposits in full—remember that deposits can be hefty sums that people saved their hard-earned money for. Keeping them safe and returning them on time should be a primary concern.
In Oklahoma, landlords are required to keep security deposits in escrow accounts maintained in the state and to return them within 45 days after the termination of a tenancy. If the tenant does not pay rent fully or causes damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord can withhold funds from the deposit. However, they must create an itemized list of deductions and send a written copy to the tenant with the remainder of the deposit.
There is no limit on the amount of security deposits in Oklahoma, and landlords do not have to pay interest on them.
Disclosing any pertinent information to your tenant prior to move-in is a legally required step. Tenants deserve to know certain facts about the home they’re moving into, especially if those facts have the potential to cause issues during their stay.
In Oklahoma, landlords must disclose whether they have knowledge on if the unit has been flooded in the last five years. If it has, they must tell the tenant in a written statement within the rental agreement.
Also, if the unit was previously used to manufacture methamphetamine, they must tell that to all prospective tenants according to Oklahoma lease laws. However, if the methamphetamine contamination is below 0.1 mcg per 100 cm2, there is no legal requirement to disclose that information.
Lastly, as a landlord in Oklahoma, you must also provide the name and address of the owner, manager, or other person authorized to accept notices. These names should be written and given to the prospective tenant.
Make sure you take the time to research the laws in any state in which you intend to buy property. Real estate laws are not always easy to follow, and they vary from state to state. Oklahoma has its own unique rules governing what landlords and tenants have a right to do, and it’s important that you follow those guidelines to treat your tenants in the fairest way possible.