Oklahoma REALTORS® Score Victory With ‘Protect Property Rights Act’
Oklahoma’s new Protect Property Rights Act is the latest victory for the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® (OAR) and its advocacy on behalf of the state’s private-property owners.
It all started when Oklahoma City thought of a new way of raising revenue. The city enacted an ordinance that required vacant or abandoned property to be registered with the city and for the property owner to pay a registration fee. The owner was also required to pay for a city inspection of the property, even if the land was well maintained or merely vacant. After Oklahoma City’s ordinance was enacted, other cities in Oklahoma prepared to enact similar ordinances as revenue sources.
According to Mary Terry, OAR’s 2014 President, the Oklahoma City ordinance opened a Pandora’s box of problems for property owners. Homes or land may be vacant for a number of reasons:
- Homeowners may have been transferred out of town for work
- The homeowner may be in the hospital or may have died
- The property may be tied up in probate
- Renovations may be underway.
Under the ordinance, any of those events could trigger a registration fee and an inspection, so long as the home on the property was unoccupied. In addition, according to Terry, a public document listing vacant homes is guaranteed to cause mischief. Any thief would love a listing of vacant homes.
In response to the Oklahoma City ordinance, the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® drafted legislation to prohibit fee-based registration of property. Aided by a grant from the National Association of REALTORS®, the Oklahoma association was able to develop a website educating the public about the effect of the ordinance on private property rights.
The Oklahoma REALTORS® Association also spearheaded the formation of a coalition of entities affected by the ordinance. The members of the coalition included the Bankers Association, Credit Union Association, Homebuilders Association, Land Title Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
As a result of the REALTORS® association’s efforts, and the efforts of the coalition, the Protect Property Rights Act was signed into law on May 23, 2014. The act prohibits municipalities in Oklahoma from mandating fee-based registries, and bars municipalities from treating vacant and well-maintained property the same as neglected and abandoned property.
By defeating the fee-based registration ordinances before they could be enacted, the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® has ensured that a new burden would not be placed on property owners.