Race Restrictions Still Appear on Deeds. There’s a Movement Afoot to Delete Them.

Close up image of a welcome mat on a house doorstep. Captioned: Race Restrictions Still Appear on Deeds. There’s a Movement Afoot to Delete Them.

Imagine the shock of reading your deed carefully and finding this rule: “This property shall not be resold, leased, rented or occupied except to or by persons of the Aryan race.” The Seattle-based Windermere Real Estate company doesn’t want to put up with such findings any more. This year, it’s working with its clients to use Washington state law to delete offensive deed language.

Under Washington law, an owner or resident of a property with an invidious deed restriction may have it stricken from the public records. This recent addition to the law makes it easier for Washingtonians who hit walls trying to remove discriminatory language from the title of their property.

In related news, Notarize, an online notary startup, now offers free notarizations to remove offensive covenants. Notarize calls it a matter of digital inclusion. The company’s website supplies assistance for Washingtonians, and will be expanding the service to Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon. In many other states, though, there is neither a process for removal not any pending legislation to deal with the matter.

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Deed Restrictions: How They Impact Homeowners and Communities

Image of road signs denoting wrong way and one way with trees in the background. Captioned: Deed Restrictions: How They Impact Homeowners and Communities

Your home is your castle. But language in your deed just might keep you from installing a pool, constructing a basement apartment and renting it out, or using a non-neutral shade of paint on your exterior walls. Here is a brief explanation of deed restrictions and how they impact individual homeowners — and entire communities.

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Is a Hurtful Deed Restriction Lurking in Your Deed?

Image of an old, weathered keep out sign made out of wood. Captioned: Is a Hurtful Deed Restriction Lurking in Your Deed?

Restrictive covenants are binding obligations not to do something with your property. These restrictions on real property are normally contained in a deed.

Restrictive covenants originated to keep industry out of residential areas. To this day, homeowners’ associations use deed restrictions in order to make condo owners adhere to established aesthetics or the property’s historical character.

They have also been used as grotesque tools of discrimination.

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What are Deed Restrictions?

For most people, buying a piece of land is a simple proposition: pay the money, file the deed, and the property is yours. Deed restrictions, though, make it clear that the world of real estate transactions is rarely so simple. Simply put, deed restrictions limit what you can and can’t do with your home. A common tool for homeowners associations to maintain uniformity in the neighborhood, deed restrictions can be added by parties such as the builder or developer, the homeowners association, or even a previous owner. Once a deed restriction is put in place, it can be very difficult to have it removed, and in many cases removal may be impossible.

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