Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Before You Rent

Moving into a new rental unit can be an exciting time. It is also an important time to review, understand, and make clear the rules contained in your rental agreement or “lease”. Knowing what rules and responsibilities you will have when you sign your lease empowers you as a renter. Understanding your rights under the Oklahoma Residential landlord and tenant Act (ORLTA) protects you from agreeing to something in a lease that might not be fair. To have an attorney review your lease for free please contact the landlord tenant Resource Center at LTRC@housingsolutionstulsa.org or call us at 918-218-4138.

While You're Renting

Yes, the landlord must keep the rental property in a fit and habitable (safe and livable) condition.

A landlord must make all repairs necessary to maintain the property in a safe and livable condition.

Only if the tenant or the tenant’s guest caused damage beyond normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is property deterioration that occurs from living in the property. For example, carpet wearing out, paint fading, or door handles loosening.

Under certain circumstances, a tenant can repair a rental property and deduct the cost of the repairs from a future rent payment, if they follow certain steps and inform their landlord in writing.

If a landlord adopts new rules after the lease agreement was signed, the tenants must be given notice of the rules that were added or changed. If a new rule or regulation substantially changes the tenant’s rights under the lease, the tenant does not have to follow it unless they agree to it in writing.

If the tenant damages the property by violating the lease agreement or not performing his duties under the Oklahoma Residential landlord tenant Act, then a landlord can give the tenant a written notice that the tenant has 10 days to make repairs or clean the property. The notice has to be in writing.

If the tenant doesn’t make the repairs or clean within the 10 days, then the landlord can enter and make the repairs or clean and give the tenant an itemized bill for the costs when the rent is next due. The bill must be itemized to show the actual, reasonable costs of the repairs or cleaning.

This only applies to damages caused by the tenant abusing the rental property. It doesn’t apply to normal wear and tear from the tenant occupying the property. It also does not relieve the landlord of his obligation to maintain the property in a safe and livable condition.

A landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the rental unit, unless it is an emergency.

A landlord can only enter during reasonable times (i.e. not late at night or very early in the morning), unless it is an emergency like a fire, flood, or to make reasonable repairs.

The issue of late fees is extremely complex and you will need a lawyer’s help if you want to contest late fees. The law for late fees is very vague and can produce different outcomes depending on the facts of the case. To speak to a lawyer for brief legal advice on the issue of late fees please call the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. Legal Aid of Oklahoma also has attorneys on staff to assist at no charge, you can apply for their services here.

Yes, the landlord must keep the rental property in a fit and habitable (safe and livable) condition.

A landlord must make all repairs necessary to maintain the property in a safe and livable condition.

Yes, but only if there is a separate written agreement between the landlord and the tenant stating: (1) the tenant will make repairs, and (2) what specific repairs, maintenance, alterations, or remodeling the tenant will perform. A landlord cannot make a tenant responsible for repairs in the lease agreement. Please note that this area of law is particularly complex and you should consult a lawyer before signing any written agreements. You can speak to an attorney for free by calling 918-218-4138 or by visiting Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.

Only if the tenant or the tenant’s guest caused damage beyond normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is property deterioration that occurs from living in the property. For example, carpet wearing out, paint fading, or door handles loosening.

If the tenant or the tenant’s guests cause damage by abusing the property, then a landlord can give the tenant a written notice that the tenant has 10 days to make repairs or clean the property. The notice has to be in writing. If the tenant doesn’t make the repairs or clean within the 10 days, then the landlord can enter and make the repairs or clean and give the tenant an itemized bill for the costs when the rent is next due. The bill must be itemized to show the actual, reasonable costs of the repairs or cleaning.

If a landlord makes the repairs and gives the bill to the tenant as described above, then the landlord cannot end the lease for the tenant’s failure to make the repairs.

Yes, a tenant can terminate a lease if the landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs. The tenant must give a landlord a written notice that if the repair is not made within 14 days then the lease will terminate 30 days from the date of the notice. If the landlord does not make the repair within 14 days, the tenant can move out when the lease terminates and will not have to pay any more rent.

If the rental unit is dangerous, unlivable, or uninhabitable (for example, without heat in the winter if the landlord is responsible for utilities) then a tenant can give a landlord a written notice of the problem and move out immediately.

Yes, the Tulsa Health Department can issue a notice of violation for any violations of minimum building standards. For more information on inspections and corrective actions, visit the Tulsa Health Department’s website.

A landlord must ensure that all rental units are able to have electricity, heat, and running water. That includes maintaining everything needed for those utilities in good and safe working order. For example, plumbing must be maintained for the tenant to have running water.

Multifamily property owners must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water, unless the water service is supplied directly to the rental unit with an independently metered connection.

Yes. If your rental property doesn’t have an essential service required by the minimum building standards then the Tulsa Health Department can issue a notice of violation.

For example, running water is required for sanitation, cleaning, personal hygiene, and preparing meals. If a rental property does not have running water, the Tulsa Health Department will issue a 10 day notice of violation and order to repair to the landlord. A copy of the notice will be provided to any tenant occupying the property.

For more information on building standards and enforcement actions, visit the Tulsa Health Department’s website.

Ending the Lease

You have a duty to leave the rental unit clean and without damage (beyond normal wear and tear).

Your landlord is allowed to inspect the rental unit after you move, and to make repairs. You are not responsible for the problems that existed when you moved in or for normal wear and tear. You will be responsible for any damage you, your family, or a guest caused during your tenancy.

Make sure to take pictures of the unit upon moving out in case you need proof that you left the unit clean and without damage.