OKLAHOMA CITY – Debra and her husband, both disabled, told to get out of their rental home.
“I opened up [the eviction notice] and I was like, ‘What? Oh, my god. What?’”
Single mom Sarah Ratzlaff who lives in the garage apartment behind Debra is also in a panic and scrambling to pack up her stuff. She’s stressing over where to go.
“I don’t know. I don’t really have any family, so I don’t have any options,” she said.
Both tell the In Your Corner team they had no idea the property was in foreclosure when they signed a lease with their landlord.
That’s not the only thing landlord, Dwight Sulc kept them in the dark on.
He also failed to mention he was arrested last December, accused of groping a 14-year-old at Tinseltown movie theater.
We made multiple attempts to reach Sulc by phone and at his Northwest Oklahoma City home.
Court records show Sulc is out on a $15,000 bond.
So far, no formal charges have been filed against him, but the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office tells the In Your Corner team he could still be prosecuted.
With the clock ticking, and less than 24-hours for the families to vacate, the In Your Corner team jumped in, reminding the bank and their attorneys of the tenants’ rights.
We had another trick up our sleeves, local attorney, Dick Klinge.
He told News 4, “Way too often, landlords have taken advantage of tenants.”
Klinge is the Director of the Oklahoma City University School of Law’s Pro Bono Eviction Program and provides free legal help to those facing eviction.
He added, “There are about 5 statutes within the residential landlord-tenant act that define, says the owner is obligated on all of the obligations of the prior owner.”
Meaning, legally, the bank can’t just evict people out of the blue.
“But what happens when people buy properties, I’ve seen it before, it’s not my first case like this, they’ll come in and try to evict the tenant, and then the burden is on the tenant.”
With his help, we stepped in at the eleventh hour, convincing the bank to call off the lockout, and buying Sarah and the Finks some time.
They don’t have the extra funds to move, and their former landlord isn’t likely to give back their security deposit, which he’s required to put into an escrow account by law.
“It’s just not right. I hate the fact I’m going to have to sue him,” Debra said. “I’m a Christian and it says turn the other cheek, but how many times?”
Klinge is working to represent both families and is in talks with the bank’s attorneys.
He and the tenants are waiting for the bank to get back to them with their options.
OCU’s Pro Bono Eviction Assistance Program provides free legal assistance to Oklahoma County residents facing eviction.
Contact Dick Klinge at 405-208-5207 to learn more about the program.