There are several kinds of disputes that arise
between landlords and tenants. While this is primarily a contract
dispute, often times, these matters are further complicated because one
party or the other will attempt to obtain a remedy that is simply not
allowed by the
Landlord Tenant Act.
Are You the Landlord?
The first part of any dispute is the terms of your
contact and the requirements of statute. You have the right to
control your property within the bounds of the law and your contract
with the renter. You have the responsibility to provide a dwelling
that is "habitable" and conforming with the terms of your lease.
You must perform routine maintenance. You are entitled to receive
rent and an expectation that your property will be well maintained by
the tenant. You are required to return the security deposit to the
tenant upon surrender of the property, less any repairs or cleaning that
the tenant was obligated to perform. Should the tenant breach the
agreement or should the lease expire, you may reclaim the property.
If the tenant will not voluntarily vacate the premises, you are entitled
to possession of the property and any back rent that is owed. This
is commonly called an "FED Action" or a "Forcible Entry and Detainer"
action. The biggest problem that most landlords expose themselves
to is when they take the law into their own hands and exceed the steps
that they can take to reclaim the property. Don't fall into that
trap. Call us and let us assist you with the recovery of the
property within the bounds of the law.
Are You the Tenant?
As with the Landlord, the first part of any dispute is the contract
and the requirements of statute. You have the right to enjoy the
property under the restrictions imposed by the lease and the law.
You have the right to expect that the property will have certain
fixtures (for example a stove, air conditioner, etc.) and that both the
fixtures and the property will be reasonably maintained.
It is a popular myth that you can withhold all of the rent if the
rental agreement is breached. Under Oklahoma law that is simply
not true. At the same time there is another myth that you can have
any necessary repairs completed and deduct the full amount of the
repairs from the rent. Again that is totally untrue. Under
Oklahoma law, the tenant can only withhold a maximum of $100.00 from the
rent - and you must attach the receipt showing the amount withheld was
spent at the residence. Further, you must have served notice to
the landlord and given the landlord a reasonable time to repair the
problem. If there are significant problems with the problem, you
can either reduce the rent by diminished value of the property, or serve
notice and move out. It is important to note that the law
requires that all notice be in writing!
A landlord may not take your property, lock you out, or "freeze you
out" by shutting off utilities. One of the ways that mane of these
kinds of disputes starts is when landlords exceed the bounds of the
remedies they are permitted to pursue under law.
If you are having trouble with your landlord, please don't hesitate
to contact our office.