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Opinion

February 25, 2014

City ordinance needs to be abolished

NORMAN — This regards the ordinance of no more than three unrelated persons may live together. Our group of 53 property managers/landlords want this ordinance abolished. A group member has called this law “offensive and appalling.”

This law was enacted 60 years ago in the “Jim Crow and Sundown Town” days and segregates unrelated and related persons and married and unmarried persons. We believe this law violates the First, Fifth, Ninth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

· First Amendment: Freedom of Association and Privacy: This law denies individuals the right to choose and maintain certain intimate human relationships, which is encompassed in the Freedom of Association by prohibiting individuals from residing together.

By restricting the number of individuals and defining the categories of persons who may live together, the law intrudes upon an owner’s right to privacy because it limits the classes of people with whom an owner may conduct business.

The law imposes on property owners the duty to determine whether prospective tenants are related by blood, marriage or adoptions. If a property owner would inquire about the nature of the relationships between potential tenants, he would risk accusations that he has violated the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it unlawful for anyone “to refuse to sell or rent ... or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familiar status or national origin.”

· Fifth Amendment: Due Process and Takings Clause: This law deprives the property owner the right to establish a home and decide who may reside on his property. It deprives a tenant who has entered into a legally enforceable lease agreement of the right to choose his co-occupants.

This law is not narrowly tailored to further compelling government interest, nor is it rationally related to a legitimate government interest. This law states that no more than three unrelated persons may live together. However, 10 related individuals could reside at an address and not be in violation of the law.

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