Since 2019, Minnesotans have been able to remove restrictive racial covenants that still remain on their home titles.
Racial covenants are clauses that were used by real estate developers in the last century to discriminate against and prevent people of color from buying homes in certain neighborhoods.
The Longfellow neighborhood is blanketed in restrictive racial covenants.
The 2019 legislation (authored by Longfellow resident and state legislator Jim Davnie) lets residents fill out a form related to the title of their property, to clarify that the restrictive covenant is ineffective, and to legally discharge it from their title. The Hennepin County website has been updated with information for homeowners who want to record affidavits denouncing restrictive racial covenants.
How to take action
Because these covenants are no longer enforceable, you can choose to do nothing, or you can take action based on your property’s land type. A little research will tell you if your property is listed as torrens or abstract.
Torrens – the vast majority of these restrictive covenants have already been removed or will automatically be removed upon the next transfer of title.
Abstract – you can denounce restrictive covenants by recording a discharge form. Follow these four steps:
1. Obtain the following information from the abstract containing the restrictive covenant:
• Document number
• Date of recording
• Names of owners
• Legal description
2. Complete the form on the Hennepin County website called “Discharge of Restrictive Covenant Affecting Protected Classes.”
3. Have the form notarized.
4. Record the document with Hennepin County (See Conventional and eRecording information section on the county website)
There is no cost to remove a restrictive covenant from your abstract.
From the Just Deeds Project website (based in Golden Valley):
Restrictive covenants have been unenforceable and illegal for decades, so why does this matter now?
Restrictive covenants continue to send a message about who is welcome in our community and who is not. It’s time to proactively renounce this discriminatory language and send a new message of inclusion and belonging.
Community conversation about restrictive covenants is an important step toward racial equality. Restrictive covenants played a role in how Minneapolis neighborhoods were planned and developed. The segregation that exists in and around our community today was carried out through a coordinated effort by developers, government (local, state, and federal), realtors, lawyers, bankers, and ordinary people.
The housing patterns that resulted from restrictive covenants persist today. Decades later, most homes with restrictive covenants are still owned by White people. On average, those homes are worth 15 percent more than a similar home without a restrictive covenant.
Because of racially discriminatory housing policies, including restrictive covenants, Minnesota has one of the largest racial disparities in the country in areas such as income, homeownership, education, and health outcomes. Many of these disparities can be traced back to the fact that families of color and people of certain religions could not purchase homes in certain areas and, therefore, did not have access to well-funded public education, healthcare, homeownership, parks and recreation, and the ability to build generational wealth.