A typo in the original article has been corrected.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A major law left largely unchecked since the 1970s is getting an update, as Oklahoma legislators give more power to renters.
Poor apartment conditions are an unfortunate staple on In Your Corner. Complaints ranging from unlivable conditions, to unresponsive management continue to flood our inbox.
It’s a byproduct, experts claim, of the decades-old Landlord Tenant Act.
But change is on the horizon for tenants and landlords alike.
Rep. Carol Bush has led the charge, authoring a new bill that’s been passed into law that tweaks the act.
“What we’re really trying to do is target those bad actors,” she told KFOR.
The Tulsa-based legislator pointed to her own backyard for an example.
The Vista Shadow Mountain Apartments made headlines in Tulsa for months. The complex at one time, owed more than $100,000 to the city in back water bills.
Residents described bleak living conditions to a myriad of local media outlets.
The complex was eventually closed due to multiple code violations.
Bush tells News 4, for several decades now, when management was unresponsive on necessary maintenance requests, tenants were only able to deduct up to $100 from rent for their own repairs.
In 2022, $100 only gets you so far.
“One hundred dollars today, I don’t know about you, when I do repairs in my home, the phone call alone is over $100 just to get it scheduled,” Bush said.
The new legislation, just signed into law, brings that $100 to the equivalent of one month’s rent.
This means, if a landlord is “noncompliant” with repairs that affect the health and safety of the tenant, that tenant can pay for repairs out of their own pocket and deduct it from their rent up to the amount of one month.
Those repairs though must be properly documented and completed by professionals.
“You also have to have a verifiable repair person,” Bush added. “Can’t just be you making up an invoice.”
In these situations, a paper trail is key.
The maintenance requests must be in writing, and if noncompliance extends past 14 days, the tenant must inform the landlord they intend to pursue their own repairs.
It’s necessary, tenants keep all receipts and documentation.
“Keep all receipts, keep all documentations of that,” Bush said. “In case, in extreme conditions, it goes to court.”
Bush actually worked with tenant, landlord and realtor associations across the state on the legislation.
She tells News 4 she expects there will be a learning curve, as those on all sides learn what this means moving forward.
The bill goes into effect in November.