What are the Duties and Responsibilities of Residential Landlords and Tenants?
By Roland Tague
Recently, my tenant moved from a condo I have owned and rented for years. I am fortunate to have had few disputes with tenants. My tenant had spilled Clorox in the middle of the carpet which covers the living areas. No repair was possible – the entire carpet had to be replaced and the cost exceeded the deposit.
Fortunately, I looked at the lease I had prepared years ago and found language in it which requires me to send written notice when all or a portion of the deposit is being retained. The Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act has the same language. I followed the notice provisions.
The Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act can be found in Okla. Stat., tit. 41, §1–61. This is an extensive Act which relates to written or unwritten “rental agreements” of “dwelling units” in Oklahoma. There can be pitfalls for landlords and/or tenants who are unaware of the requirements of this law. The following are a few of the provisions of which residential tenants and landlords should be aware:
The landlord must place the tenant’s security deposit in an account at a federally insured financial institution. If the landlord decides to retain all or part of the deposit, a written statement must be mailed by return receipt requested to the tenant along with an explanation of the reason for retaining the deposit. All of the remaining deposit, without interest, must be returned to the tenant within 45 days of the end of the tenancy. The tenant cannot deduct the security deposit from last month’s rent.
The landlord may impose limitations on the use of the dwelling unit and can evict a tenant who violates these limitations. Occupancy limitations of 2 persons per bedroom are presumed reasonable. There is an exception on occupancy limitations for children born during the lease term.
During the tenancy, the landlord may adopt or modify a rule or regulation concerning occupancy of the dwelling unless the new rule or regulation “works a substantial modification of tenant’s bargain.” In that situation, the rule or regulation is not enforceable.
The landlord has the usual duties of maintenance of the dwelling. This does not preclude the parties, by a separate agreement, from authorizing the tenant to perform specific repairs and maintenance tasks.
If a breach of the lease by the landlord “materially affects health or safety” of the tenant, the tenant has the right to terminate the tenancy after providing the landlord with a 30-day written demand to cure the issue. There are also provisions in the Act for a tenant to remedy these issues if the amount is less than $100 and notice is given to the landlord.
Notice of termination of the tenancy must be served on the other party “personally.” If the tenant cannot be located, notice may be served on a member of the household over age 12. If these methods of notice do not work, the notice may be posed at a “conspicuous place” on the dwelling unit and mailed by certified mail to the tenant. If service can’t be made, then the tenant must mail notice by certified mail.
If a tenant vacates the dwelling and leaves items of personal property, the landlord may take possession of them. If the personal property has “no ascertainable or apparent value”, the landlord may dispose of the property without a duty of accounting to the tenant. If the personal property has an “ascertainable or apparent value”, there are different rules for disposing of this property.
If the landlord is aware that the premises have been used for the manufacture of methamphetamines, there are additional disclosures required to tenants who later lease the property.
A LANDLORD OR TENANT SHOULD REVIEW THESE LAWS PRIOR TO ENTERING INTO A LEASE AND BEFORE ANY ACTION IS TAKEN FOR AN ALLEGED BREACH OF A RESIDENTIAL LEASE AGREEMENT.
For more information, contact Roland Tague at 405-272-9241 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Non-residential leases are governed by other statutes and case decisions.
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Posted on Tue, December 20, 2016
by Andrews Davis filed under