Targeted Offensive Act Language – Banker and Merchant

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Lew sichelman

A little-known but very effective legal group is working on drafting model legislation that would help landowners remove discriminatory and restrictive covenants from their actions.

The acts often contain all kinds of restrictions, especially in communities run by associations. They can cover building height limitation, lease restrictions and even the color you can paint your home. But the Chicago-based Uniform Law Commission initiative squarely targets racial discrimination.

Even though the Supreme Court struck down conventions based on race almost 75 years ago – and Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, outlawing discrimination based on race or ethnicity in the sale or rental housing in 1968 – restrictive racially motivated conventions can still be in real estate titles almost anywhere.

Formerly common racial alliances

Seattle, for example, is rife with restrictions on racial acts.

“The language of segregation still haunts Seattle,” reports a local civil rights group. “It is hidden in the actions of tens of thousands of homeowners living in neighborhoods outside of the Central Zone and the International District. “

The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project has found racial restrictive covenants attached to more than 15,000 properties in the area. Here is an example of what some are saying:

  • “No person or person of Asian, African or black blood, lineage or extraction will be permitted to occupy any part of said property. “
  • “The lot, or any part thereof, will not be sold to a person of whole or part blood of the Mongolian, Malay or Ethiopian races, nor the same or any part of it will be rented to persons of such races. . “
  • “No person of a race other than the white race shall use or occupy a building or land, except that this engagement does not prevent the occupation by servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or a tenant. “

Similar language has been well documented in St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago; Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City, Missouri; Baltimore; and Washington, DC The Philadelphia Federal Reserve has found more than 4,000 cases of racial alliances in acts in the City of Brotherly Love. And in Chicago, racially motivated alliances “are written into deeds” in neighborhoods across the city, according to a report from Lake Forest College.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a newspaper ad once proclaimed that “No Negro, No Chinese, No Japanese can build or lease” in Rockridge Park. (Note that the word “Negroes” was not even worthy of a capital N.) In Minneapolis, an act says that neither the land nor the buildings on it “will ever be leased, leased or sold, transferred. or transferred to, nor will it be occupied exclusively by one or more persons other than Caucasian.

The restrictions were also not limited to preventing people of color from buying property in certain communities. Sometimes they were based on a person’s religion – prohibiting Jews, for example, from living in certain places.

Inapplicable, but hurtful

Such restrictions became fashionable with a Supreme Court ruling in 1926 which validated their use. The restrictions were part of a binding contract, and a landlord who violated them risked forfeiture of the property.

Today, even though they are no longer applicable, those words persist on paper – and many buyers and sellers find it repugnant.

The Uniform Law Commission is taking steps to remedy this problem.

The 130-year-old ULC “provides states with well-crafted, well-drafted, non-partisan legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law,” the group’s website says. The commission is made up of more than 300 lawyers, judges and law professors, each appointed by their respective states to “research, draft and promote the adoption of uniform laws in areas of state law where uniformity is desirable and practical. “.

The nonprofit recently authorized the appointment of a new drafting committee to draft a law that, in states that would pass it, would allow now illegal terms of a title deed to be struck or freed from rights. registers.

No timetable has been set, and the steps to follow seem somewhat onerous. For example, drafts cannot be submitted to the full commission “until they have received a thorough review”. However, over the course of its history, the organization has enacted more than 200 laws, including the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Partnership Act.

Meanwhile, some states are moving forward on their own. Washington has had a law on its books for nearly two years that allows owners to submit documents to remove discriminatory language from records. But the law does not remove the public record, reports the Seattle civil rights group.

Last year, Florida passed a law that extinguished discriminatory restrictions on deeds and other real estate documents. In Indiana, legislation is underway that would allow homeowners to attach a notice rejecting such undertakings as discriminatory, invalid and unenforceable. And in Orange County, Calif., Buyers who need to register property documents with the county can have discriminatory language removed for free.

Going further, Orange County officials are now required to notify the district attorney if anyone attempts to register such pledges.

Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for over 50 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous housing magazines and to housing and housing finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at [email protected]


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