COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Oklahoma State Court OrdersPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerLegal Aid Services of Oklahoma

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Oklahoma
Is there a ‘special protection’ for renters during the emergency?

Oklahoma has no statewide moratorium on evictions, but Oklahoma's Supreme Court paused most of its court cases until May 15, 2020. The court has also stated that orders issued through 3/16 to 5/15 are enforceable.

Check with the Oklahoma State Courts for updates.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court also is now requiring landlords to certify CARES Act compliance, if they are suing a renter for eviction. They must proactively show that the eviction is not prohibited by the US national emergency protections.

You may be covered by national protections, or by your local county and city. Read below to see if you are eligible for U.S. national protections.

Also check with your local government to see if they provide any additional local protections.

Do I still have to pay rent?

Yes, Oklahoma renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me?

Yes, most Oklahoma renters can be evicted from their homes during the emergency, but eviction court cases may be paused during the emergency.

There is no statewide special protection that stops landlords from suing renters to evict them, or that stops law enforcement from removing renters from their homes.

If you are sued for eviction, the courts will likely not hear the case until after May 15, 2020. The Oklahoma Chief Justice has ordered the closure of courts, cancellation of trials, and extensions of deadlines during the emergency period. Check with the state courts to see if this date is extended further.

Some local Oklahoma city or county governments may have suspended eviction enforcements. Be sure to check if your local government has any special rules to protect you.

Also, you may be covered by national protections against eviction. Read below to see if you are eligible for U.S. national protections.

If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.

  • In Tulsa County, legal aid provides attorneys for housing court at no cost to all qualified tenants. Call 2-1-1 or go to this website for a referral for a free housing court attorney in Tulsa County.
Can my utilities be shut off?

Some Oklahoma renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.

Utility bills are still due as normal, but some residents will be protected from shutoffs if they are not able to pay these bills.

Some Oklahoma utility companies are stopping all shutoffs during the emergency. Some local cities have ordered that no resident’s water can be shutoff. Check with your local government and utility provider to see if you have any protections from shutoffs.

Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still proceeding in court?

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