All about right to counsel efforts in Tulsa OKC

01/01/2024, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: RTC pilot expanded to additional zip codes


A right to counsel pilot project in Oklahama City funded by $ 1 million in ERAP dollars  is now operating in three zip codes, while a similar pilot in Tulsa funded through a HUD grant is operating in one zip code.


UPDATE: study finds major impact when tenants have counsel


According to a recent study by Oklahoma Open Justice, for eviction cases in Tulsa, "[L]egal representation for a defendant is associated with a 75% increase in the odds of remaining in their home."


UPDATE: state provides significant funding for statewide eviction defense


Oklahoma has channeled $2.6 million in federal funding to legal services programs to provide statewide eviction defense services.


UPDATE: new report provides fodder for tenant right to counsel


A new report by the University of Tulsa College of Law (Terry West Legal Clinic) includes some startling statistics about housing court in Tulsa:


  • 82% of landlords in eviction cases have representation, compared to 3.5% of tenants, which is why nearly two-thirds of the cases end in default and why tenants overall were successful less than 1% of the time.

  • When tenants were represented, they avoided eviction nearly twice as often as unrepresented tenants (about 70% of the time overall), were twice as likely to avoid a money judgment against them, and paid $800 less on average where such judgments did occur.

  • In just 1 month, landlords obtained eviction judgments in 22 cases where they did not state a claim specifying the basis for the eviction.

  • Over a 3-month period, over 500 companies lacking the capacity to sue due to  invalid LLC status filed evictions, and 34% of those cases resulted in default judgments.


UPDATE: Tulsa City Council passes right to counsel resolution


The City of Tulsa passed a resolution recognizing the importance of legal representation for tenants facing eviction and encouraged study of the cost/benefit of providing a right to counsel for tenants.  It recognized Tulsa's extremely high eviction rate, the massive disparity in representation rates between landlords and tenants, and the high success rates for tenants with representation.



The NCCRC has provided support to the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation in its work on this issue.