Owning real estate has long been a part of the “American Dream.” In a state like Oklahoma, with large tracts of land, and a history of homesteading, land ownership can be a way not only to gain some prestige, but perhaps make some money as well. Owning a piece of property that one rents to others can be either a nice “side hustle” or a full-time job. While owning such types of property come with privileges, it also comes with responsibilities.
The common law placed upon a landlord a very generalized responsibility called the “implied warranty of habitability.” According to this doctrine, even if the landlord did not specifically agree, he had the duty to maintain a property he was renting to a tenant in a condition such that the tenant could live in peace and some minimum standard of comfort. While the level of this standard varied based upon time and place, the idea of the warranty of habitability has come down to us in modern times.
In Oklahoma, this idea has been codified in the state’s legal code, as it has in most places. The state’s Landlord and Tenant Act places some more specific responsibilities on landlords than the common law warranty did. For example, in multiple-unit dwellings, a landlord must keep common areas clean and free of dangerous conditions. He or she is also responsible for maintaining appliances and plumbing, as well as heating and ventilation systems, in good working and safe condition. The landlord must also make arrangements for the removal of trash and refuse as well as ensure that running water and electricity are maintained, unless the rented property is a single-family unit where such utilities are provided by the common grid.
While ownership of rental properties can be a boon to one’s bank account, it can also take work to maintain them. Further, expenses can be incurred if tenants complain of a breach of one of the landlord’s legal duties. If a landlord has legal questions about what he or she is required to do, it may not be a bad idea to consider contacting an Oklahoma landlord-tenant attorney.