LANSING, Mich., March 1, 2021 – Last week, state Rep. Sarah Anthony reintroduced the “Prohibited Restrictive Covenants Act” which would prohibit deed restrictions on the basis of race, sex, religion and other protected classes. The legislation also outlines and clarifies the process for homeowners who desire to remove this offensive and discriminatory language from property deeds.
“Black History Month is a time to acknowledge all aspects of our past, and the shadow of many dark chapters still linger,” Anthony said. “Even though housing discrimination is illegal, deeds across the state still include archaic language prohibiting African Americans, Jewish Americans or women from owning property and living in certain communities. Since I started working on this issue two years ago, many Ingham County residents have shared with me what they have found in their own deeds. They are eager and willing to right this wrong but didn’t know where to start. My bill provides homeowners with a clear process to remove hateful words from their deeds and end the legacy of housing discrimination in their community.”
Despite the federal Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination in housing practices after its passage in 1968, the legacy of this prejudiced and unconstitutional practice remains ingrained in many property deeds throughout Michigan.
The legislation defines a “prohibited restriction” as a restriction, covenant, or condition that violates the federal fair housing act. As written, the bill provides a process for an individual property owner, homeowner’s association or condominium association to amend a deed. The bill would also render any prohibited restrictive covenants in an existing deed void.
House Bill 4416 has the formal support of the MI Register of Deeds Association, the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors, the Rental Property Owners Association of MI, and the ACLU. The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Local Government.