Oklahoma Eviction Process
November 8, 2023
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Eviction In Oklahoma
If you own and rent properties in the state of Oklahoma, you are responsible for complying with Oklahoma eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s eviction laws can be found at OS 12 § 1148.
Eviction Process in Oklahoma
- Landlord serves a zero- to 15-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 48 hours to move out
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Oklahoma, tenants can be evicted via forcible entry and detainer for failing to pay rent, violating the lease, causing or threatening to cause harm to other people or property, or engaging in criminal activity.
1. Landlord Serves a Zero- to 15-Day Eviction Notice in Oklahoma
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve an Oklahoma eviction notice and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Oklahoma:
- Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than five days after receipt of the notice) (OS § 41-131(B)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 15 days to quit; 10 days to cure. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord may deliver this notice stating the breach and that the lease will terminate in 15 days if the tenant does not “cure” or fix the problem within ten days (OS § 41-132(B)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate. If the tenant’s noncompliance causes or threatens to cause imminent and irremediable harm to the premises or any other person, the landlord should send a notice to cure the violation. If it is not remedied by the tenant as promptly as conditions require, the landlord may terminate the lease immediately by filing an eviction action. Immediate termination of the lease is also warranted when a tenant engages in any criminal activity (including drug-related criminal activity) that threatens the health, safety, or right of peaceful enjoyment by other tenants (OS § 41-132(C-D)).
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
The next step in the Oklahoma eviction process is filing a complaint with the court. If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file a Petition for Forcible Entry and Detainer (downloadable here) in the Oklahoma District Court (OS 12 § 1148.1).
To complete the complaint, the landlord will typically need the names and information of both parties, the name of the court, a description of the rental property, the unit’s address, and the reason or basis for the eviction. The landlord will also need to pay a filing fee of $85.
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
Next, the court will issue a summons ($10 each) to be served with a copy of the complaint to the tenant. The summons will demand the tenant’s presence at a court hearing, which must occur between five and ten days after the summons is issued. The summons should include the nature of the claim, the relief sought by the landlord, and the amount that the landlord will take judgment if the tenant fails to attend the hearing (OS 12 § 1148.4).
Per Oklahoma eviction laws, the summons must be served by the sheriff (for a $50 fee) at least three days before the day of the trial (OS 12 § 1148.5). The sheriff needs to verify with the court that proper service was made at least by the hearing date. “Proper service” means that it was made in one of the following manners:
- Personal service to the tenant
- Leaving a copy with someone living at the property at least 15 years old
- If service cannot be made with reasonable diligence on someone at the property, either by:
- Sending a copy of the summons and complaint by certified mail with return receipt postmarked at least three days before the trial date.
- Posting a copy conspicuously on the rental unit and mailing a copy to the tenant’s last known address at least five days before the trial date.
If one of the final two methods of service is used, the court’s judgment against the tenant should only be for possession (not any other monetary relief), unless the tenant appears at the hearing. The landlord can still file an additional action for monetary relief after the eviction (OS 12 § 1148.5A).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
Regular residential tenants with lease agreements in Oklahoma are not required to file a formal answer or affidavit with the court. Instead, they may present any defenses they may have at the hearing.
A written answer is required for defendants looking to assert title to the land (e.g., a squatter seeking adverse possession). In this case, the defendant must file a verified answer or affidavit with a “full and specific statement of the facts constituting his defense of title or boundary dispute.” After this is done, the action will proceed as an ejectment action. The answer needs to be filed within ten days after the date the affidavit is filed (OS 12 § 1148.6).
Additionally, either party may request a jury trial at this time. If neither the landlord nor tenant requests one, the court will try the cause (OS 12 § 1148.7).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue an order for the tenant’s removal. At the landlord’s request, the court will also issue a writ of execution, which authorizes the sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant from the premises (OS 12 § 1148.10).
The tenant may file a motion for a new trial after losing the case, but only within three days of the judgment. Doing so will not stop the eviction.
Additionally, if the tenant fails to show up to court, typically a default judgment will be awarded to the landlord. However, if the case was for nonpayment and the tenant makes a good faith claim that they never received proper notice of the eviction or hearing, the tenant may be able reverse the judgment and avoid the writ of execution by paying all due rent, court costs, and attorney fees within 72 hours (OS 12 § 1148.10B).
6. Tenant Gets 48 Hours to Move Out
After the court issues the writ, they will direct it to the sheriff or officer, who will serve the writ to the tenant for a fee ($50 or actual necessary expenses, whichever is greater). The writ will state that if the tenant has 48 hours to move out of the property before law enforcement officers arrive (OS 12 § 1148.10).
7. Sheriff Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant has not moved out and remains in the unit after the 48-hour notice expires, the sheriff, the landlord, or the landlord’s agent will return to execute the writ, forcibly remove the tenant, and restore possession of the property to the landlord.
Note that there may be an additional fee for execution of the writ, which varies by county. For instance, the fee for execution of a writ in Lane County is $89.
If the tenant refuses to surrender possession, they may be deemed guilty of trespassing and could be fined up to $500, jailed for 30 days, or both (OS 12 § 1148.10).
Evicting a Squatter in Oklahoma
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Oklahoma, squatters must have lived in the property and had color of title for at least 15 continuous years and paid property taxes for at least five years to invoke Oklahoma squatters rights and claim right of possession (OS § 12-93, 94). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Oklahoma to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Oklahoma, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Oklahoma eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Oklahoma Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of the eviction process in Oklahoma, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Issuance of court summons||$10|
|Service of court summons by sheriff||$50+|
|Issuance of writ of execution||Varies by county|
|Service of writ of execution||$50, or actual necessary expenses (whichever is greater)|
|Execution of writ||Varies by county|
|Notice of appeal filing fee||$200-$300|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Oklahoma Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the Oklahoma eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||0-15 days|
|Service of summons||At least 3 days before the hearing|
|Tenant time to file Answer||Within 10 days after affidavit is filed (for defendants asserting title)|
|Eviction hearing||5-10 days after issuance of summons|
|Issuance / service of writ of restitution||Immediately or within a few days|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||48 hours|
- Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office – Information about eviction from the sheriff’s office in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma Rules of Civil Procedure – This document includes the specific rules of court procedure in the Oklahoma District Court.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Oklahoma laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.