(Updated September 9, 2020)
This article is a brief summary of the eviction process In Oklahoma where I share with you what a landlord should know about the process of evicting a tenant in the OKC metro area. I originally wrote the article in 2019, but much has changed about the eviction process since then due to the Corona virus pandemic. This article tells you what you need to know based on how the process has changed.
Let me start off by saying that I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice. My advice is that if you need an eviction done, seek out an expert. That’s especially true during the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are a landlord and want to file the eviction yourself, think twice. Legal aid will be at court assisting tenant – looking for any technicality to get your case thrown out of court.
My property management company used to do the OKC evictions process on behalf of our clients. That’s changed since the beginning of the pandemic. I’m just going to give you a rundown of the process that we and the attorney go through when we are doing an eviction.
For starters, I get quite a few questions from out of state real estate investors about evictions in Oklahoma. I think they are familiar with some jurisdictions, like in Southern California, the evictions process can be a complete nightmare. Rent control. Ridiculous squatter’s rights. Ridiculous time frames.
It’s gotten more difficult in Oklahoma since the beginning of the pandemic, but it doesn’t rise to that level.
Eviction Process in Oklahoma City ( Step By Step Guide )
Ultimately, all the laws around the evictions discussed in this article are governed by the Oklahoma Landlord-Tenant Act. In a nutshell, you can evict a tenant for two things, failure to pay rent or other lease violations.
Step 1: Tenant Violates the Lease
Failure to pay rent is by the far the most common reason that Oklahoma City tenants are evicted. The lease provides for the amount of rent that the tenant is to pay the owner. And, the rules around when and how the rent is to be paid. Evicting a tenant due to failure to pay rent is the easiest way to evict a tenant because it is easy to prove one way or the other.
You can also evict an OKC tenant for other lease violations. The most common lease violation is the non-payment of rent. Other lease violations include:
- Illegal activity in the property such as drug use,
- Having unauthorized occupants or pets, and
- Failure to keep utilities on.
Evicting an Oklahoma tenant due to other lease violations can be very difficult because it’s not always easy to prove. For example, suppose your lease doesn’t allow for pets. You file on the tenant for having a dog on the property. You even have a photograph of the dog on the property. You get to court, and when the judge asks the tenant if they have a dog, the tenant says that the dog was just there for a few days and is now gone. The judge continues the case. You do a walk through inspection and sure enough the dog is no longer at the property. You show back up to court and the case is dismissed. The dog reappears at the property the very next day once the heat is off.
Step 2: Five-Day Notice to Quit
Once a lease violation occurs or a tenant is late with their rent, you must provide the tenant with a 5-day notice to quit. That notice must be posted on the door of the property or handed to the tenant. And one copy must be sent to the tenant at their property certified mail.
Step 3: Filing for Eviction
If the tenant doesn’t correct the issue within the five-day period, you or your attorney can file for eviction at the county clerk’s office. The court date for the eviction is usually seven calendar days from the date of the filing.
The eviction process server must serve the court papers to the tenant once the filing has been done. If the process server serves the tenant personally, that is, hands the tenant the court papers, the landlord is entitled to a money judgment. If the process server cannot catch the tenant at home to serve them, they must post the papers on the door and send them certified mail.
When you go to court, you must go “loaded for bear”. If you aren’t familiar with that expression, it means that we bring everything. Your attorney will know what these items consist of, and include copies of the lease, the ledger, copies of items associated with the eviction (summons, petition, proof of service, 5-day notice, military affidavit, and entry of appearance) and anything that might come as a bone of contention.
The CARES Act was enacted by congress March 27, 2020. It placed a 120-day moratorium on evictions due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. That restriction was lifted July 25, 2020.
It also placed special restrictions on properties in which the tenant receive government assistance (Section 8), or the financing on the property was backed by a government loan program, such as Fannie Mae. Those restrictions are in place until December 31, 2020.
September 4, 2020 Executive Order
An Executive Order pertaining to rental housing was put in place September 4, 2020. It provides limited protection to tenants from eviction. In order for a tenant to be protected from eviction, they must prove the following:
- The individual either:
- Expects to earn less then $99,000 for calendar year 2020,
- Was not required by IRS to file in 2019, or
- Received an economic impact payment (stimulus check) pursuant to the CARES Act.
- The individual is unable to pay full rent due to loss of income.
- Eviction would render the person homeless.
Should these all be the case, the tenant must prepare a declaration and provide it to the landlord or property management company. Statements on the declaration must be true, under penalty of perjury. If you receive one of these declarations, you must cease the eviction process immediately, and get your legal council involved.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when one goes to court:
These tips are mostly for those who are brave enough to file and represent yourself in court.
If the 5-day notice is not valid, you can’t get possession of the property. That means it has to be properly served to the tenant (see the rules on that above). The court will ask to see a copy of the 5-day notice to quit to verify the details are correct.
The Sailors and Soldiers Relief Act requires that you show evidence to the court that you are not evicting a member of the military who is deployed. For that, you do a search of the Department of Defense database using the name, social security number, and/or date of birth of the tenants. You fill in an affidavit showing that we have done this search and they tenant who is being evicted is not on that list.
If you don’t get personal service and the tenant doesn’t show up for court, the best you can hope for is possession of the property. You will NOT get a money judgment. The terms of the judgment are spelled out on the journal entry. The judge signs the journal entry and one file the journal entry with the court clerk.
Changing the Locks
If you think the tenant has already moved out of the property, once you get legal possession you can change the locks once you verify the property is vacant. Thus, you can save the cost of meeting a deputy sheriff at the property to change the locks.
If you think the tenant or other people might still be in the property, you need to get the judge to sign on a writ of assistance. You pay for the writ, get it signed, and file it with the court clerk. A deputy sheriff will post a 48-hour notice on the property. You meet the deputy sheriff at the property and change the locks.
The only appeal is to the State Supreme Court within 30 days. I’ve never heard of anyone making such an appeal, but I’m certain it has happened.
If you are in a situation in which you think you’ll need to evict a tenant and would like our opinion or assistance, fill in the contact form below, give us a call, or get more information about our Oklahoma City property management services.
Eviction is relatively inexpensive
It’s not expensive to file for eviction in Oklahoma. It’s currently $53 to file a case for relatively low dollar amounts.
You also have to have the court papers delivered to the tenant by a process server. The process server will run you less than $50.
Once you get the judgment from the court, you may have to pay for the Sheriff to meet you at the property to change the locks. At the time of this writing, the sheriff’s writ will cost you $115 in Oklahoma County.
Hiring an attorney to do your eviction will cost you a few hundred dollars above the costs mentioned above. At this point, it’ money very well spent.
If you go to eviction court, you will see a cross-section of tenants, landlords, attorneys, and property managers.
Many landlords still do their own evictions. It used to be that it was not that hard as long as you knew a few basic things. I doubt very much well go back to those times. The pandemic situation won’t be with us forever, but I think the newer procedures are mostly here to stay.
Most landlords now hire an attorney to do their evictions. And it makes sense in these times. The CARES Act has added restrictions to evictions. For one, it’s not legal to charge late fees. If the property was leased with government subsidized rent, such as through the Section 8 program, there was moratorium on doing evictions through the end of July. That moratorium has since lifted. However, instead of a 5-day notice to quit, the tenants must be served with a 30-day notice to quit for past-due balances. This even holds for tenants that originally leased the property under the Section 8 program but are no longer on Section 8.
Also, if the property has a mortgage that is government backed, the property also falls under the restrictions of the CARES Act.
Finally, some property management companies still do their own evictions. They can legally do this on behalf of their owners as long as the property management agreement provides for that. Also, they should not be charging fees for doing the eviction because they don’t have a law license, and therefore should not be charging for legal services.
If you have a tenant who needs to be evicted, contact OKC Home Realty Services (doing business as Property Management OKC Plus).
FAQs: Know About Eviction Process in Oklahoma City
How Do I Evict Someone from My Home in Oklahoma?
The Landlords and property managers must follow the rules strictly that are set forth by Oklahoma law when evicting a tenant In Oklahoma. The landlord should go through an eviction lawsuit in court. Even if the landlord is successful with the eviction lawsuit, Only an officer with a court order can evict the tenant. It is illegal for the landlord to ever make an attempt to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit.
How Long Does it Take to Evict Someone in Oklahoma?
The process of eviction in the state of Oklahoma is a multi-step legal proceeding. As such, it is difficult to provide a simple answer to the question of the amount of time it will take to evict a tenant. Ultimately, the amount of time it takes to evict someone in Oklahoma city will depend upon the amount of time the landlord is required to provide the tenant to relocate and the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction process.
How Much Does it Cost to File an Eviction in Oklahoma?
Eviction is relatively inexpensive.
The process server will run you less than $50. Once you get the judgment from the court, you may have to pay for the Sheriff to meet you at the property to change the locks. At the time of this writing, the sheriff’s writ will cost you $115 in Oklahoma County.
Can You Evict a Tenant Without a Lease in Oklahoma?
In the state of Oklahoma, a landlord is allowed to evict a tenant who is renting without the benefit of a written lease, otherwise known as an “at-will” tenant, without cause. The process a landlord must follow to evict an “at-will” tenant depends upon the rental arrangement with the tenant.
What Is the Law on Eviction in Oklahoma?
If a tenant does not pay rent on time in Oklahoma, then the landlord must provide the tenant with a written notice that gives the tenant five days to pay the rent. If the landlord does not receive the rent within five days, then the landlord can proceed with an eviction lawsuit. The notice that is required for nonpayment of rent is different from the notice that is required for lease violations.
How to Evict a Squatter in Oklahoma?
A squatter is someone who chooses to occupy a foreclosed, unoccupied, or abandoned residential building or area of land without lawful permission. This means that the person doesn’t rent or own the property. In actual Oklahoma doesn’t have specific laws related to the removal of squatters from a property. To get squatters to leave if they refuse through civil methods, a landowner must file a judicial eviction to have them removed.