Lawmakers in Oklahoma City have advanced two bills that would reform expungements and tenant rights: House Bill 3792 (HB 3792) and Senate Bill 1575 (SB 1575). HB 3729 would change the expungement regulations. In addition, SB 1575 would increase protections for tenants at risk of being evicted. 

HB 3729 expunges nonviolent misdemeanor criminal records. It applies to “any person who was convicted of a nonviolent misdemeanor offense, at least ten (10) years have passed since the date of conviction.” However, it applies if the person meets the following requirements: “has not been convicted of a felony, all fines, fees, and restitution if ordered by the court have been paid, and no felony or misdemeanor charges are pending against the person.”

Additionally, individuals eligible for an automatic expungement can file a petition instead. However, the bills also clarified that specific agencies can petition the court to unseal automatically expunged records. These agencies include the prosecuting agency, the arresting agency, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and other interested persons or agencies. Passing this bill could help many people obtain more housing and employment opportunities.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved SB 1575, which will undergo review by the full Senate. If passed, SB 1575 would add five days to the required period between filing an eviction case and the earliest allowable court date. As a result, affected parties would have at least ten days from the eviction case’s filing date to the court date. 

Furthermore, SB 1575 would increase the time tenants have from the day they receive a summons until the day they must appear in court. This timeframe has changed from three days to seven. However, the law included exceptions to the extension.

According to Senator Kirt, this bill will not hamper a landlord’s ability to address tenants who have damaged the property or committed criminal activities in it. Senator Kirt assured concerned parties that the extended timeline would not apply in such cases. Instead, it would “[put] in a statute what responsible, fair landlords already do when tenants can’t play.”

Interested parties have reviewed these bills and voiced support for these changes. For example, the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies approved of “modernizing Oklahoma’s eviction statutes.” According to the executive director, “This five-day extension can give renters the time they need to get another paycheck or make other arrangements to pay their rent, something that shorter notice periods can often prevent.”

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.