Oklahoma Security Deposit Laws in 2024

Introduction to Oklahoma Security Deposit Laws

Security deposits are funds paid by a tenant at the start of a lease to provide financial protection for the landlord in case the tenant causes damage or fails to pay rent. Landlords can use the deposit to cover repair costs, unpaid rent, or cleaning expenses once the tenant moves out. 

Oklahoma has specific statutes that govern security deposits for residential rental properties. These laws outline the maximum allowable deposit, where deposits must be held, deadlines for return, allowable deductions, and penalties if landlords fail to follow the laws properly. 

The purpose of Oklahoma's security deposit regulations is to protect tenants from landlords unfairly keeping deposits while also allowing landlords to use deposits for legitimate expenses caused by the tenant. The laws aim to create a fair balance and process between tenant and landlord regarding deposit handling.

All residential rental properties in Oklahoma fall under the state's security deposit laws, outlined primarily in Title 41 O.S. § 115. Landlords must follow these statutes when collecting, holding, and returning security deposits. Tenants should understand their rights under the laws as well.

Maximum Allowable Security Deposit in Oklahoma

Oklahoma landlords can legally charge up to 2 months' rent for a security deposit when a tenant moves into a rental unit. There is no limit set by Oklahoma law on how much can be charged for a pet deposit, which is collected separately from the general security deposit.

Landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit from tenants at the beginning of the lease term to cover potential damages that may occur during the tenancy. However, Oklahoma law places a cap on the maximum amount that can be collected. 

Specifically, the security deposit charged by landlords in Oklahoma cannot exceed two months' rent under normal circumstances. For example, if the monthly rental rate is $1,000, the landlord could collect up to $2,000 as a security deposit from the tenant. They cannot require more than this two month maximum at the start of the lease, regardless of the rental rate.

Pet deposits are treated separately under Oklahoma law. While security deposits are capped at two months' rent, there is no legal limit on pet deposits that can be charged in addition to general security deposits. Landlords have discretion to charge pet deposits as they deem necessary to cover any potential pet-related damages. These pet deposit amounts do not count toward the two month rent maximum for general security deposits.

In summary, Oklahoma landlords can charge up to 2 months' rent for security deposits, plus unlimited pet deposits. Tenants should be aware of these limits and requirements when entering into a new rental agreement.

Location Where Deposits Must Be Held in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, landlords are required to keep security deposits in a bank account that is separate from their personal funds or other accounts. The security deposit cannot be commingled with the landlord's own money. 

The law states that the landlord must hold the security deposit in an escrow account established by the landlord for the purpose of securing the payment of rent and other damages. This means the security deposit funds must be kept in a separate account specifically for tenant deposits.

Landlords cannot mix security deposit money with their own funds or use it for personal expenses or other purposes. The purpose of requiring a separate account is to protect the tenant's deposit and ensure it is available for refund when the tenancy ends. 

If a landlord deposits the security deposit into their personal account or uses it to pay their own bills or expenses, they are violating Oklahoma law. Tenants should ensure their lease or rental agreement specifies the details of the separate escrow account where their security deposit will be held.

Receipts and Documentation

Under Oklahoma law, landlords are required to provide tenants with a receipt for their security deposit within 30 days of receiving it. This receipt must include the following information:

  • Amount of deposit
  • Date received 
  • Bank name and location where deposit is being held
  • Terms and conditions under which deposit may be withheld or refunded

Providing this receipt is important for both landlords and tenants, as it creates a record of the deposit details. The receipt gives the tenant proof that the deposit was paid and information on where it is being held. For landlords, issuing a receipt starts the documentation process in case there are any disputes over deductions later on.

Overall, requiring a receipt within 30 days ensures transparency around security deposits in Oklahoma. Tenants know their rights upfront and have the details needed to track their deposit. Landlords also protect themselves by creating a paper trail from day one. Following this best practice can prevent a lot of headaches down the road.

Deadlines for Returning Deposits 

In Oklahoma, landlords must return security deposits within 30 days after the tenancy ends and possession of the unit is returned to the landlord. This applies for standard security deposits up to $125.

For security deposits over $125, landlords have 45 days after the tenancy ends to return the deposit. 

So in summary:

  • Deposits of $125 or less must be returned within 30 days
  • Deposits over $125 have a 45 day deadline

The clock starts ticking on these deadlines as soon as the tenancy officially ends, which is usually defined as when the tenant returns the keys and vacates the unit. Landlords cannot delay the return deadline by waiting to do inspections or deductions.

Allowable Deductions from Security Deposits in Oklahoma

Oklahoma landlords are permitted to deduct funds from a tenant's security deposit for unpaid rent, property damage beyond normal wear and tear, and cleaning fees if stipulated in the lease.

Unpaid Rent

If a tenant fails to pay their last month's rent or has unpaid rent due when they move out, the landlord can use the security deposit to cover these rental arrears. However, the deposit cannot be used to pay rent while the tenant is still residing in the unit it can only offset unpaid rent once the tenancy has ended.

Damage Beyond Normal Wear and Tear

Landlords can deduct from the security deposit to repair or replace any damaged items beyond normal wear and tear. This includes things like broken appliances, damaged floors or walls, broken windows, or furniture stains/damage exceeding normal use. The tenant is responsible for damage caused by themselves, guests or pets.

Cleaning Fees 

If the lease agreement contains a cleaning fee provision, the landlord can deduct a reasonable cleaning fee from the security deposit if the tenant leaves the unit significantly dirtier than when they moved in. Typically the lease will specify a set cleaning fee amount.

Itemized List of Deductions

Oklahoma law requires landlords to provide tenants with an itemized list of any deductions taken from the security deposit. This itemized list must be sent to the tenant along with the refund of any remaining deposit balance within the required timeframe after move out.

The itemized deductions should clearly spell out the reasons for each deduction, along with dollar amounts and descriptions of any damages or cleaning charges beyond normal wear and tear. For example, the list may say "$50 to repaint walls due to crayon drawings". 

Landlords cannot simply provide a lump sum deduction without this level of detail. The itemized list provides transparency for tenants to understand why each deduction was made.

If the landlord fails to furnish an itemized list of deductions along with the deposit balance, the landlord may have forfeited the right to retain any portion of the deposit. Tenants can use the lack of an itemized list as grounds to dispute improper deductions and reclaim their full deposit.

Overall, the Oklahoma itemized deduction requirement is an important protection for renters. Tenants are entitled to see exactly why any money is being deducted, not just receive a reduced amount back without explanation.

Penalties for Improper Withholding

If a landlord in Oklahoma fails to return the security deposit or provide an itemized list of deductions within the required timeframe, they can face penalties. The tenant may take legal action to recover up to twice the amount of the security deposit that was wrongfully withheld. 

Additionally, if the tenant is forced to take legal action, the landlord may be held liable for the tenant's attorney fees related to recovering the security deposit. This provides a significant deterrent for landlords against improperly keeping security deposits.

The threat of paying double the deposit amount plus legal fees encourages compliance with Oklahoma's security deposit laws. Tenants have the right to receive a full refund of their deposit, less any justifiable deductions, in a timely manner. Landlords who make improper deductions or withhold the deposit without cause do so at their own financial risk.

Sale of Property Provisions 

When a rental property is sold or transferred to a new owner in Oklahoma, responsibility for security deposits transfers to the new owner. Existing tenants' security deposits must be transferred to the new landlord upon sale or transfer.

Oklahoma law requires that tenants be notified in writing of the change in ownership and provided with the contact information for the new owner or manager. This notification should include details on where the security deposit has been transferred.

Tenants' rights regarding return of their security deposit are not affected by the sale of the property. The new owner takes on full responsibility for security deposits, including returning deposits to tenants, providing receipts and documentation, and complying with all legal requirements. 

If there is a dispute over a security deposit return after a property sale, tenants can still recover up to twice the deposit amount from the landlord improperly withholding the deposit, even if it is a new owner. The sale of a property does not relinquish the landlord's duties when it comes to handing tenants' security deposits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Oklahoma's laws on security deposits?

Oklahoma landlords can charge up to 2 months rent for a security deposit. Deposits must be held in a separate bank account and cannot be commingled with the landlord's personal funds. Landlords must provide a receipt within 30 days and return deposits within 30-45 days after the tenancy ends. 

How much can a landlord charge for a security deposit in Oklahoma?

Landlords in Oklahoma can charge up to 2 months rent for a security deposit. There is no limit on pet deposits.

Where does a landlord have to keep a tenant's security deposit in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma law requires landlords to keep security deposits in a separate bank account that is not commingled with their personal funds.

When does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Oklahoma?

Landlords must return security deposits within 30 days after the tenancy ends if the deposit is $125 or less, or within 45 days if over $125.

Can a landlord in Oklahoma deduct from a security deposit? 

Yes, landlords can deduct for unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and cleaning fees if stipulated in the lease.

What can a landlord legally deduct from a security deposit in Oklahoma?

Landlords can deduct for unpaid rent, damage beyond normal wear and tear, and cleaning fees if included in the lease. They cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.

Does Oklahoma require an itemized list of deductions from a security deposit?

Yes, landlords in Oklahoma must provide tenants with an itemized list of any deductions from the security deposit.

What happens if a landlord does not return a security deposit in Oklahoma?

If a landlord wrongfully withholds a security deposit in Oklahoma, the tenant can sue for up to 2 times the amount improperly withheld. The landlord may also be liable for the tenant's attorney's fees.

How can a tenant get their security deposit back in Oklahoma?

To get their deposit back, the tenant should properly terminate their lease, provide a forwarding address, document the condition of the unit, and request return of their deposit within 30 days. If the landlord does not comply, the tenant can sue.

What are a tenant's rights regarding security deposits in Oklahoma?

Tenants have the right to a receipt, itemized deductions, return of deposits within 30-45 days, and the ability to recover up to 2x the deposit if improperly withheld.

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