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Advocates commend Oklahoma legislators for proposed study on landlord, tenant laws

by The Black Wall Street Times
Housing and justice advocates say Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act, initially passed in Oklahoma in 1978, hasn’t had the necessary modifications to meet current landlord and resident needs.

TULSA, Okla. – Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa) filed a request for an interim study to the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week to consider reforms to the Oklahoma Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

“As the eviction moratorium sunsets and the state faces record-breaking challenges for both tenants and landlords, it’s important we revisit our policies to ensure both a strong rental market for landlords and fair policies that prevent homelessness,” said Becky Gligo, executive director of Housing Solutions. “We are grateful to Rep. Bush for taking this first step to research and consider modifications in our Residential Landlord Tenant Act.”

Housing Solutions works to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring and provides the leadership, fundraising, community partnership and data to find housing solutions for Tulsans. The organization also works hand-in-hand with A Way Home for Tulsa, which includes more than 20 direct service providers in Tulsa County.

History of Oklahoma’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act

The Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act was drafted in 1972 and adopted, in the most part, by Oklahoma in 1978.

Some changes to the law over the years include:

  • 1982: adding protections against discrimination for having a guide dog
  • 2018: extending that protection to all assistance animals
  • 2003: adding mobile homes
  • 2010: requiring landlords to disclose methamphetamine manufacturing

The Uniform Law Commission, which seeks to set best practice laws and drafted the original law Oklahoma adopted, created an updated URLTA in 2015 which can be seen here.

Speaker of the House to review study proposal in July

Oklahoma has not yet made any of these updated changes.

“Oklahoma must have statutes that support both landlords and tenants equitably,” said Katie Dilks, executive director of the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation.”

The Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation seeks to expand access to civil justice for all Oklahomans through three primary areas: improving court processes for self-represented litigants, ensuring legal services organizations have sufficient resources to serve all Oklahomans, and encouraging and expanding pro bono with the private bar. The Access to Justice Foundation works closely with the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, along with partners throughout the legal system in the state.

The deadline to request interim studies was June 25 and the Speaker of the House will review and approve requests in July.

“Our current Landlord Tenant Act has several opportunities for improvement, including some outdated provisions placed more than 40 years ago. I am grateful to Rep. Bush and other House Leadership and look forward to a fairer legal landscape as well as a healthier, stronger rental market as a result of this study and the resulting recommendations,” Katie Dilks added.

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