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New Oklahoma law clarifies foreign land ownership rules

Wheat Harvest in Kay and Garfield County at Joe Caughlin and Lee Schnaithman’s property on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
Mitchell Alcala
OSU Agriculture
Wheat Harvest in Kay and Garfield County at Joe Caughlin and Lee Schnaithman’s property on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

Oklahoma lawmakers tweaked foreign land ownership laws this session to clarify regulations regarding the purchase of property across the state.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 1705 into law on the last day of the session. Brad Clark, Deputy General Counsel in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, said the act clarifies the language from SB 212 that was signed into law in 2023.

Oklahoma has had rules on the books for decades regulating who can buy property in the state. People from outside the country who are not bona fide residents of Oklahoma cannot purchase land.

In 2023, SB 212 tightened foreign land ownership restrictions, limiting direct or indirect foreign land ownership through a business or trust. It also required an affidavit to be filed with a deed saying that whoever acquired the property was following the law.

Clark said this brought up questions among people processing the paperwork.

“Most of the questions from county clerks and others centered around: ‘What is a deed? The transfer on death deed, does that need an affidavit? Does the sheriff’s deed need the affidavit?’” Clark said.

The new law also blocks a “foreign government adversary” or company controlled through such a government from owning land in the state. A “foreign government adversary” means a government or political subdivision the U.S. Secretary of State deems as “hostile” or a “Country of Particular Concern.”

It does not apply to mineral rights and there are exceptions such as if a government is involved in regulated interstate commerce or has a national security agreement with the Committee on Foreign Investment.

Clark said SB 212 was to target illegal marijuana operations. Clark said the legislature responded appropriately by enacting measures to help law enforcement combat illegal operations, including SB212.

As KOSU reported in January, foreign owners hold about 1.7 million acres out of Oklahoma’s nearly 44 million acres of land, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Canadian investors own most of that acreage.

Copyright 2024 KOSU

Anna Pope