Unfortunately, you can still find shocking examples of racism in recorded real property restrictions, including condominium master deeds or subdivision declarations. A restriction might state that only “members of the white race” may own property in the development, for example. While they were likely recorded many years ago and are no longer enforceable under current fair housing laws, it is still alarming to see these provisions in print.
Michigan legislation, HB 4416, would supply boards of directors and individual members of community associations with a simple mechanism to officially delete these provisions from their documents. Either a majority of the board could resolve to do so, or any individual member of the association could request that the board do so, and the board would then be required to delete the provision by recording an amendment in accordance with the legislation. A vote of all owners would not be required.
While the legislation was inspired by a need to address historical racism, the protections extend to other groups as well, applying to “a restriction, covenant, or condition, including a right of entry or possibility of reverter, that purports to restrict occupancy or ownership of property on the
basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or other class protected by the fair housing act… in a deed or other instrument.” And the legislation expressly states that any such provision is unenforceable if already existing and shall not be recorded going forward.
We will keep an eye on this legislation and update this post with further developments.