This article is a brief summary of what a landlord should know about the process of evicting a tenant in the OKC metro area.
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.
My property management company does evictions on behalf of our clients. I’m just going to give you a run down of the process we use.
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, evictions can be a complete nightmare. Rent control. Ridiculous squatter’s rights. Ridiculous time frames.
You just don’t have that in Oklahoma. The process is fairly simple, which I outline in detail below.
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.
As Long as You Follow the Rules, it’s not that difficult.
If you go to eviction court, you will see a cross section of tenants, landlords, attorneys, and property managers.
Many landlords do their own evictions – because it’s just not that hard as long as you know a few basic things. Some don’t know what they are doing, make simple mistakes, and have to do the whole thing over again.
Some hire an attorney to do their evictions. Most landlords who own and manage a hand full of properties would be best served by hiring an attorney to do their eviction.
Finally, many property management companies will 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 licence, and therefore should not be charging for legal services.
I have another article on how to do a successful eviction. But let me get into the specifics of the eviction process in the next section.
The Eviction Process in Oklahoma
Ultimately, all the law around evictions discussed in this article are governed by the Oklahoma Landlord Tenant Act.
You can evict a tenant for lease violations. The most common lease violation is 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.
Five-Day Notice to Quit
Once a lease violation occurs, we 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 must be sent to the tenant at their property certified mail.
Filing for Eviction
If the tenant doesn’t correct the issue within the five-day period, we will file for eviction. We 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 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 we go to court, we come loaded for bear. If you aren’t familiar with that expression, it means that we bring everything. We bring 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.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when one goes to court:
If the 5-day notice is not valid, one 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 one show evidence to the court that one is not evicting a member of the military who is deployed. For that, we do a search of the Department of Defense database using the name, social security number, and/or date of birth of the tenants. We fill in an affidavit showing that we have done this search and they tenant who is being evicted is not on that list.
If one doesn’t get personal service and the tenant doesn’t show up for court, the best one can hope for is possession of the property. One 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 we think the tenant has already moved out of the property, once we get legal possession we can change the locks once you verify the property is vacant. Thus, one can save the cost of meeting a deputy sheriff at the property to change the locks.
If we think the tenant or other people might still be in the property, we need to get the judge to sign on a writ of assistance. One pays for the writ, get it signed, and file it with the court clerk. A deputy sheriff with post a 48-hour notice on the property. One meets 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.