In this article, we will explore the rights of tenants in Oklahoma when facing unfair security deposit deductions. Specifically, we will discuss a case where a tenant was asked to break the lease due to an emotional support animal (ESA) and subsequently received only a partial refund of their security deposit. We will analyze the tenant's rights, the evidence they possess, and their potential course of action.
Overview of the Situation:
Upon moving into an apartment, the tenant was later asked by the property manager (PM) to break the lease due to their daughter's ESA. After moving out, the tenant received only a partial refund of their security deposit. The PM claimed damages to the apartment, including broken blinds and a poorly patched wall, which the tenant argues were already repaired before moving in. The tenant possesses evidence in the form of videos taken before and after moving in, as well as a picture showing the patched-up wall shortly after moving in. The tenant also requested receipts for the actual cost of replacing the blinds but never received them.
Understanding Tenant Rights:
Under Oklahoma law, tenants have certain rights regarding their security deposits. Landlords are required to return the deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out, along with an itemized list of any deductions made. Deductions can only be made for damages beyond normal wear and tear, and landlords must provide evidence to support these deductions.
Potential Course of Action:
Given the circumstances, the tenant may consider filing a claim in small claims court to challenge the unfair deductions from their security deposit. Small claims court provides an accessible and cost-effective platform for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants.
Evaluating the Evidence:
The tenant's possession of videos, photographs, and a recorded conversation with the PM can serve as crucial evidence in their favor. These materials demonstrate the condition of the apartment before and after the tenancy, as well as the tenant's efforts to clarify the guidelines for breaking the lease and receiving a full deposit refund.
Requesting Court Costs:
When filing a claim in small claims court, tenants may also request the reimbursement of court costs. These costs typically include filing fees, service fees, and any other expenses incurred during the legal process.
In this case, the tenant has a strong basis for challenging the unfair deductions made from their security deposit. With the evidence they possess, including videos, photographs, and a recorded conversation, they can present a compelling case in small claims court. By understanding their rights and pursuing legal action, the tenant has a chance to seek justice and potentially recover their withheld deposit.