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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 38168
Experience:  Attorney over 16 years, landlord 26 years
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I am a landlord dealing with a difficult tenant. He is more

Customer Question

Hello, I am a landlord dealing with a difficult tenant. He is more than 2 months behind in rent. I gave him a pay or vacate notice in December. He paid a only a small part of what was owed so I told him he would still need to move. He told me on the phone on Dec 31 that he would try to get some more money and if he couldn't, he would be moved out by Jan 3rd. I told the tenant that anything still in the house on the 4th would be disposed of. Jan 4th, we inspected the property. There was a broken window, it was very dirty and infested with mice, and the tenant had left a lot of belongings. After another week went by, we checked the property again and nothing had changed so we figured the property was abandoned and began moving the stuff out into the carport of the house yesterday. We also changed the locks which we always do when a tenant moves out without leaving their copies of the keys. Well, the tenant contacted me in the middle of the night and said the police had just left and that we broke the law. What should I do now?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes and ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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I need to ask a few questions before I comment...

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Can you tell me what state this is in?

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Did you post any notice of abandonment on the door?

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Did you give him a new pay or vacate notice after he paid a portion of the rent in Dec?

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Have you confirmed with the police that they were called out?

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Did they allow the tenant to regain access?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is in Oklahoma. I did not post a notice of abandonment. I did give him a new pay or vacate notice after he paid a portion. I have not spoken with the police and do not know if they allowed him to regain access.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

Ok, from a purely legal perspective, under OK law, you have the right to take possession of the property and any personal property in it and then dispose of it after 30 days if the tenant has abandoned the property. ( OK Statutes 41-130)

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So you retaking possession of the property to secure it is legal and you haven't broken any laws. The question of what constitutes abandonment is subjective, but if they have been gone for a few weeks and utilities are off, that is a good indication.

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But I would tell the tenant that they are allowed to retake possession of any of their property and mail a notice to the house stating that anything left will be disposed of after 30 days if they don't come get it. I would also post a copy on the front door.

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Further, I realize that you were trying to save money by not evicting them through the courts, but the safest way is to go ahead and file to evict if the notice to pay or vacate has expired. That way you get a judgment and can legally throw everything out without any questions.

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But if the tenant never takes any legal action by trying to file a lawsuit and alleging an unlawful eviction, you don't have anything to worry about.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister