Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, or Stalking May Terminate a Lease
Video Transcribed: Can an Oklahoma protective order be used to get out of a lease? My name is James Wirth I am a lawyer in Tulsa, and that’s the topic before us. It’s that time of year where we look at all of the new laws that are going into effect. And in this circumstance, we’re talking about Senate bill 200 for the 2021 legislative year, which goes into effect November 1st of 2021.
And it is an amendment to parts of the Oklahoma Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. It’s a very short addition to that provided in subsection F. I’ll just read the whole thing to you. It says a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking may terminate a lease without penalty by providing written and protective order of an incident of such violence within 30 days of such incident unless the landlord waives such time period.
So the landlord could waive that time period, could go beyond that, but essentially this purports to mean that if you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, something along those lines, you file for a protective order. You can get that protective order written notice to your landlord, and they have to let you out of the lease.
That’s what this seems to apply. Now there could be concerns related to that from the landlord’s perspective, where that is a taking of property without due process of law, violation of 5th Amendment, 14th amendment. Doesn’t contemplate any of that information in the statute. This is brand new. Doesn’t go into effect for a few more days.
We don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out, but it appears as though if you are a victim of domestic violence and you file for a protective order, you can use that protective order to get out of a lease.
Now from my practice, I’ve handled a lot of cases on the protective order docket, and it is from what I’ve seen, it can be unfortunate that protective orders can be granted white easily. It is not really difficult to get a protective order, and that is something that can harm the other party. You initially can file those on an emergency basis, which is ex-parte, meaning you’re the only one heard. The defense does not have an opportunity to be heard until it’s for a show cause later.
Because of that, it can be pretty much easy if you make any kind of allegations that fit the requirement of the statute, that’s granted for you without anything to contradict that from the other side, no opportunity to be heard. And now that could potentially be used in order to get out of a lease.
So we’ve seen people try to use protective orders as swords instead of a shield in order to get an advantage in a custody case, or just to use it as harassment. And we’ve seen a lot of that. And unfortunately, my fear is that this adds one additional incentive for people to file a protective order that may not need it.
And unfortunately, we sometimes see that in court where people do that. Obviously, not everybody that files for a protective order is doing so for a fraudulent or improper purpose. Some people are in need of protection and are victims of domestic violence, but we do see both those types of cases in there.
And this may be one additional incentive for somebody to file one that may not be on the up and up. So that is potentially concerning, as well as potentially concerning from the landlord’s perspective that they’re being denied essentially their rights from their contract without any kind of due process of law.
But that’s a new law going to effect in Oklahoma. If you’ve got questions about it, how it may affect your circumstances, then you can contact my office. We can schedule a confidential consultation about your specific circumstances to get that scheduled. Go online, to makelaweasy.com.