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The following section will help you to navigate the eviction process. If you need further information or explanation for any of the topics listed below please contact us. 

Evictions

Evictions

An eviction is when a landlord asks a court for an order to remove a tenant from a rental property. In order to legally evict a renter landlord must: 

  • Give you a notice to pay rent or to move (depending on your situation). 
  • Go to court and get an eviction. You should know when he/she does this, because you should get a notice telling you when to be in court. Go to this court hearing! 
  • Serve you with a court order to leave the property (called a WRIT). (The sheriff does this). 
  • The sheriff will return 48 hours after serving you with the court order or writ, to change the locks and take possession of the home. 

An eviction is when a landlord files a legal case in court to have a judge order that a renter be removed from the rental property. There is typically a reason the landlord is filing for eviction (such as non-payment of rent, criminal activity in the rental property, or other breaches of the lease) and it usually occurs before the lease ends. A lease ending is a fixed date that was agreed upon by the landlord and the tenant in the lease/rental agreement. A lease ending does not require the landlord to file an eviction unless the tenant refuses to move out on the lease-end date.  

Unless there is an emergency, an eviction typically gets started when the landlord gives “notice” (tells in writing) to the tenant of a breach of the lease terms. For instance, a landlord could give notice to a tenant that they have failed to pay rent on time and that the tenant must pay the rent owed or move out. The amount of time the landlord has to give the tenant to fix the problem depends on the reason the landlord is trying to evict a tenant.  

  • Notice to Terminate for a Lease Violation (emergency): A landlord does not have to give you notice that they are terminating your lease before they file an eviction case against you if there is activity going on in your home that could cause other tenants or people harm or if there is criminal activity in your home.  

Next, the eviction lawsuit (or case) is filed against you at the Tulsa County District Court. This is formally called a Forcible Entry and Detainer action. A landlord must file the correct paperwork with the Court Clerk in order for there to be a case against you.  

Once an eviction case has been filed against you you will receive a summons. A summons is a piece of paper issued by the Court Clerk that tells you (1) you are being sued, (2) who is suing you, (3) why you are being sued, (4) and when and where you must go to court for the hearing. At least 3 days before trial you must receive your summons by (1) having it handed to a resident in your household who is at least 15 years old, or (2) having it posted to your door and sent via certified mail. 

If an eviction case has been filed against you the court will set a court date for you and the landlord to appear within 5-10 days of when the landlord filed the case. If a judge issues an order evicting you from the home at the court date you will have 48 hours to leave the residence.  

Yes! There are benefits of going to court. Even if you owe the landlord money, there may be options available to you to either avoid or negotiate the terms of the eviction, but you can only use these options if you are at court on the day of your hearing. Some of these benefits include: 

  • You can get free legal assistance. Link to Legal Resources here. 
  • Your lawyer may be able to identify legal defenses that can stop or delay the eviction, including making sure the landlord has followed all the legal rules they are required to. 
  • You may get more time to move out. 
  • If you have more time to move out, you may be able to avoid losing all of your belongings. 
  • You may be able to lower the money judgment issued against you, including excessive late fees. This is important because this judgment will follow you and could lead to wage garnishment. 
  •  You can avoid having an eviction judgment on your record, which can make it harder to rent in the future.  

There are three possible outcomes if you don’t go to court.  

(1) The Judge dismisses the case entirely. This is rare and would likely only happen if the landlord also failed to go to court.  

(2) The Judge issues a “judgement under advisement” which means the Judge is reserving extra time before they make their ruling or order. Finally, and most likely 

 (3) the Judge issues a “default judgement” against you. This means that simply because you didn’t go to court, you lost the case. Any judgement for money against you may be used to garnish your wages at a later date. 

 

Please see the section on “Should I Go to Court” for more information on the benefits of going to your court hearing.

If a judge issues an order evicting you from the home at the court date you will have 48 hours to leave the residence. If you go to your court date, you may be able to negotiate more time to move out or find a solution that lets you stay.

Illegal Evictions

An illegal eviction can take many forms. Generally, an illegal eviction occurs when the landlord does not follow the required legal process to remove a renter from the home. In order to legally evict a renter landlord must: 

  • Give you a notice to pay rent or to move (depending on your situation). 
  • Go to court and get an eviction. You should know when he/she does this, because you should get a notice telling you when to be in court. Go to this court hearing! 
  • Serve you with a court order (called a WRIT). (The sheriff does this). 
  • The sheriff will return 48 hours after serving you with the court order or writ, to change the locks and take possession of the home. 

 If you are being illegally evicted you may experience the following: 

  • Failure to Follow the Legal Process: When the landlord fails to follow the legal process (e.g., does not properly provide notice, file a case, deliver the summons, etc.) for eviction you have rights but time is of the essence. If you believe your landlord has evicted you but hasn’t followed the proper steps you should (1) write down what steps your landlord failed to take and (2) contact a lawyer immediately. You can get brief legal advice on the issues of illegal evictions by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.  
  • Default Judgement After No Service: If your landlord has gone to court and evicted you but you did not receive notice of the court case you have rights but time is of the essence. When a default judgement is entered, but the renter had no notice of the court case the default judgement could be “vacated” or thrown out. You can get brief legal advice on the issues of illegal evictions by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.  
  • Lock Out: Your landlord cannot lock you out of your home unless you have been evicted and removed by the sheriff. If your landlord has locked you out of your home, but you have not been legally evicted by a court order issued by a judge you have rights but time is of the essence. If you have not been evicted and the landlord locks you out, you should:  
  • (1) contact a lawyer to learn about possible solutions. You can get brief legal advice for free by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. You can learn more about free legal services by calling  2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc..   
  • (2) Contact your landlord and find out why you were locked out. If it is possible, try to work out some arrangement with the landlord.  
  • (3) Sue the landlord in small claims court to get possession and money damages. Additional information about small claims can be found below. 

You can get brief legal advice on the issues of illegal evictions by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.  

f you are being illegally evicted by threats or use of physical force you should report the matter to the police and then seek legal advice. A landlord cannot ever threaten to harm, or actually harm a tenant. You can get brief legal advice on the issues of illegal evictions by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.

A landlord is not entitled to your belongings automatically. Your landlord is obligated to keep your personal property that has clear value for 30 days after an eviction (or removal). You may be required by a court to pay for storage. After 30 days, your property may be considered abandoned. However, if your landlord illegally locks you out and destroys your property, then you can sue for twice the damages that you suffered. To learn more about what happens when your landlord locks you please visit here 

You can get brief legal advice on the issues of illegal evictions by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.  

Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court is for cases involving up to $10,000. Like “People’s Court,” you do not have to have an attorney, though it is often helpful. Small Claims Court can be less expensive than other courts, and the steps you have to take are less complicated.   

The Small Claims Procedure Act was set up to allow people to bring claims before a judge quickly.  No formal “pleadings” or specialized legal papers are required in small claims except those needed to state the claim or counterclaimCourt clerks may have the required forms you need.  

 

The law limits the types of cases you can file in Small Claims Court.  In general, Small Claims Courts are for cases about accidents, contracts, unpaid bills, and landlord and tenant problems. Small Claims Courts cannot hear the following types of cases: 

  1. Libel and slander; 
  1. Probate matters, such as will disputes, guardianships, and adoptions; 
  1. Divorce and other family matters. 

You can get brief legal advice on the issues of filing a small claims case related to housing by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.  

There are several reasons why you might want to file a case against your landlord in small claims court. For instance, if your landlord has locked you out of your home, but you have not been legally evicted by a court order issued by a judge and the landlord has kept your personal property you may sue in small claims to either get your property back or recover the cost of the property you lost.  

The process for filing in Small Claims Court is: 

  1. Complete an “affidavit.”  This form is available in the Court Clerk’s office.  In the form, you must list your name and address, the name and address of the  person or company you are suing, the reason you are suing, and the amount you are suing for. The Court Clerk will set a date and time for the hearing, usually within 10 to 30 days.  
  1. You must pay a filing fee.  The Court Clerk in the county you will file the lawsuit will tell you the cost of filing fees.  If you cannot afford the costs, ask the Court Clerk about how to use a “Pauper’s Affidavit.”  A “Pauper’s Affidavit” tells the court that you cannot afford court costs and asks the judge to waive them. A list of filing fees for small claims and other actions can be found here. 
  1. You must have copies of the Small Claims affidavit delivered to the person you are suing; this is called “service.”  Service may be by certified mail, sheriff, or private process server. The cost of service depends on the method you use.  You must serve the person at least 7 days before the scheduled hearing.  If you do not complete service within 180 days of filing your case, the court will dismiss your case, and you may have to pay another filing fee and start all over.  
  1. You need to be aware that the person you sue can also file a claim against you; this is called a “counterclaim.”  A counterclaim must be filed at least 72 hours before the hearing, and you must be personally served with court papers before the hearing. 

To file a small claims case against your landlord you will need to take all the required paperwork to the Court Clerk’s office on the second floor of the Tulsa County District Court. There will be signs directing you where to go for small claims cases. You can get brief legal advice on filing small claims actions against your landlord by calling the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at 918-218-4138. To apply for a lawyer to represent you in court please call 2-1-1, visit 2-1-1, or visit Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. Additional legal resources can be found on our “Legal Resources” section of our website.