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Your Rights and Duties as a Tenant


RULE NUMBER ONE: Put It In Writing
RULE NUMBER TWO: Act In Good Faith
As a residential tenant in Oklahoma, you have rights and duties relating to your home or apartment which cannot be bargained away in your lease The residential Landlord-Tenant Law provides the legal frame work For your lease and your relations with your landlord Here are some answers to questions you may have.

What if my dwelling is not open to me at the beginning of my lease?
By giving written notice to your landlord you may end your lease and have your prepaid rent or deposit returned. Or you can sue the wrongful possessor, and obtain possession and damages.

What happens to my security deposit?
Your landlord can require a security deposit it must be kept in a federally insured account in Oklahoma, separate from the landlord's own funds You, as tenant, must request the return of the money in writing within six months after your lease is ended. The landlord must return it, with a written explanation of any deduction for damages or rent owing, within 30 days after your written request. lf you do not request a refund in writing, the landlord may keep your money once the six months is up.
lf your landlord sells the house or apartment, you must receive:
A refund of your deposit or
The name and address of the new owner who will make the refund at the end of the lease This choice is your landlord's.

What services am I entitled to?
Except in the case of a single-family residence, your landlord must keep all common areas used by more than one tenant safe and clean.
Your landlord must keep your premises in a safe, livable condition.
Your landlord must keep all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances in good and safe working order, unless otherwise agreed to by a "conspicuous" writing independent of your rental agreement.
Your landlord must, if your dwelling is other than a one or two-family residence, provide trash receptacles and frequent removal, unless this is provided by a government entity.
Your landlord must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, and reasonable heat, unless you live in a single-family dwelling or have a separate metered utility connection for these services.

What do I do if my landlord does not make necessary repairs or provide necessary services?
You must give your landlord written notice of any needed repairs to keep your living quarters safe and healthy.
Your choices (if the defect affects safety or health):
You may tell your landlord in the notice that if repairs are not made in 14 days you will move out in 30 days after the notice and your lease will be over.
If the repair costs less than $100, you may tell the landlord that you will have the repair made yourself and subtract the cost or value from your rent if the landlord does not repair in 14 days.
If an essential service fails due to the landlord's fault or willful act, you can, at your option, by giving written notice:
End your lease and move immediately.
Move somewhere else temporarily you will not owe the landlord rent while you are living in substitute housing.
Sue the landlord for damages based on the difference between what the apartment or house is worth without the essential service and what you are required to pay under the lease.
Make your own arrangements for the service and deduct the cost from your rent.
If the conditions are so bad that there is an imminent threat to health or safety, which is not remedied as soon as conditions require, you may give written notice of the problem and end your lease immediately.
If a fire or other emergency makes your living place unsafe, you may end your lease by moving out a giving written notice within one week.
None of these rights are yours if you or your family or pet, or a person or animal on the premises with your consent causes the damage.

Who is liable for personal property (beds, electronics, furniture, clothing) that is damaged or from a leaky roof or broken?
Generally, a landlord will not be liable for damage to personal property arising from a leaky, roof or pipe. Most rental contracts provide that the tenant is responsible for these losses and the courts enforce the landlord's position the best solution is for the renter to purchase a renter's insurance policy.

Can my landlord make rules that are not in my lease? Can they be changed?
Your landlord can make rules and regulations as to use of the premises, which apply fairly to all tenants. Any rule must relate to convenience, safety or welfare of tenants, and tenants must have notice of such rules. If a new rule changes your lease in a material way, you will not be subject to the rule unless you consent to it in writing.

To whom do I give notices?
Your landlord must give you information in writing as to the name and address of the owner, manager or other person who is authorized to accept notices from tenants. This must be kept current. If this disclosure is not made, the person who signs your lease, as landlord, has all the duties of a landlord and must accept notices and make repairs.

What if I move out and leave property in my living unit?
Your landlord may dispose of worthless property or may give you notice by mail to remove your property. He may store your property you must pay storage costs if you want it returned. If you do not remove your property, the landlord may sell it and deduct costs, storage and any other money you owe. You will be mailed notice of the sale.

What are my responsibilities as tenant?
You must keep your own living area clean and safe, dispose properly of all trash, keep plumbing fixtures clean use facilities safely and not deliberately or carelessly destroy anything, which belongs to the landlord. You must comply with your lease and all proper rules and not allow anything to be done which would disturb other tenants.

What can the landlord do if I do not meet my responsibilities?
If your non-compliance can be remedied by repair, replacement or cleaning, the landlord may require you to repair within 10 days after written notice to you, or the landlord may repair and bill you.

Information presented here taken from materials prepared by the Oklahoma Bar Association, on the Web at:www.okbar.org.



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