Oklahoma Realtors, other business groups support bill banning cities from registering vacant properties

Oklahoma House bill would reject municipal ordinances requiring registry of vacant properties.
Oklahoman Published: February 25, 2014
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Oklahoma City’s new ordinance creating a registry for vacant property — paid for by the property owners — was too much for state Realtors, who call it an attack on property rights.

The Oklahoma Association of Realtors is leading support for a House bill to kill it and others support the effort. The Realtors, the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, Oklahoma Credit Union Association, Oklahoma Bankers Association and Oklahoma Farm Bureau have come out for House Bill 2620, sponsored by Rep. Steve Martin, R-Bartlesville.

The Oklahoma City Council unanimously approved registration and fees — the Realtors call them fines — in December. The responding bill, which passed a House committee on a 6-4 vote last week, would prohibit property registries, include Oklahoma City’s. The bill goes next to the House floor.

The city ordinance was “presented as an effort to address abandoned and neglected property,” but it “mandates excessive fees, public registration requirements and expensive government inspections for well-maintained yet vacant property,” said Matt Robison, vice president of government affairs for the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.

The Realtors said other cities also are considering registries. Discussion of such a registry in Enid — and a draft copy of an ordinance — caused alarm among Realtors.

“This (Oklahoma City) ordinance has now become a model for other municipalities,” Robison said. “In an effort to protect property rights and keep local governments from overreach for the purpose of generating revenue, this bill assures that municipalities cannot mandate such registries.”

Oklahoma City officials estimated some 12,000 vacant or abandoned buildings in the city.

“Property ownership records are already public. Such registries represent overbearing governmental intrusion and do not protect property rights. Private property remains of great value to Oklahomans,” Robison said.

An Oklahoma City study last year cited rundown houses and commercial buildings as an across-the-board drag on property values. But, Robison said, vacant does not mean dilapidated, and he questioned city officials who would presume a vacant property to be a nuisance.


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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State Realtors have a website to garner support for the bill: www.protectpropertyrightsok.com.

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