Tenant Self-Help Made StrongerWhether you are a tenant or a landlord, it is a nuisance when repairs are needed for a rental unit. Repairs take time and money, but are needed to ensure the rental unit remains inhabitable. Ignoring a tenant’s request to make repairs to the rental unit becomes riskier on November 1, 2022.

The Oklahoma Legislature significantly amended the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act effective November 1, 2022. This amendment strengths an existing right tenants have to self-help. After giving a landlord 14 days’ notice (or less in an emergency), the tenant can make certain repairs without the landlord’s permission and deduct the costs from the monthly rent if the repair is needed for a landlord to comply with the rental agreement or to address a material health concern.

Before this amendment, the deductible costs was limited to $100. But, effective November 1, 2022, a tenant can deduct up to the entire month’s rent for applicable repairs. Applicable repairs may include, but may not be limited to:

1. Fixing the heating in cold weather;
2. Fixing the A/C in hot weather;
3. Repairs addressing access to water;
4. Repairs addressing access to electricity or gas;
5. Repairs addressing access to other essential services;
6. Or any other repairs the landlord is responsible for making under the rental agreement.

After submitting to the landlord an itemized statement, the tenant may deduct from their rent the actual and reasonable cost of the fair and reasonable value of the work. The repair also keeps the landlord’s failure to repair from ending the rental agreement.

The new right for a tenant to deduct up to one month’s worth of rent to self-help repair qualified maintenance issues will likely make this option more attractive to tenants going forward.

Importantly, the repair amount is currently limited to $100. Yet, once the amendment goes into effect on November 1, 2022, the amount is increased to an amount equal to or less than one month’s rent. Tenants and landlords should document in writing all correspondence and confirm conversations in writing to ensure their interests are protected if a maintenance issue is involved.

If are a landlord or tenant and believe you may be affected by this change in the law, we are happy to help. Call us at 405-753-1500.