Oklahoma cities, Realtors differ on property rights

Vacant property registries are at issue in debate between municipalities and The Oklahoma Association of Realtors.
by Richard Mize Modified: March 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014

The Oklahoma Association of Realtors, opposing city registries of vacant and abandoned properties, is going toe-to-toe with local governments at the private property line — over property rights.

The Realtors are pushing House Bill 2620, dubbed the Protect Property Rights Act, by Rep. Steve Martin, R-Bartlesville.

The measure would ban such registries and fees for administering them, including one approved late last year by the Oklahoma City Council.

“MUNICIPAL LOCAL CONTROL UNDER ATTACK IN LEGISLATURE,” the Oklahoma Municipal League countered in its latest legislative bulletin.

Opponents of HB 2620 argue that banning the registering of vacant and abandoned properties would actually undermine the rights of property owners to try to protect the value of their property with local regulations.

Homeowners sought such protections in Del City, Midwest City and Stillwater, as well as Oklahoma City, and HB 2620 “would negate those,” House Minority Leader Scott Inman argued last week before the House passed the bill 68-23.

Regulation needed?

The bill, which awaits assignment to a Senate committee, “would eliminate existing protections and future rights of others,” said Inman, D-Del City.

The bill “takes the choice away from our constituents,” said Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater

The Realtors oppose any local regulation that “regrettably considers vacant and well-maintained property the same as abandoned and neglected property,” said Matt Robison, vice president of government affairs for the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.

Robison criticized the Oklahoma City registry ordinance as too broad, and as a way for the city to raise money.

“This revenue-raising ordinance is being considered a model by other Oklahoma municipalities, which assuredly will have differing opinions on how to define an unoccupied structure,” he said.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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