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Minnesota Legislature

House OKs bill allowing homeowners to reject racially restrictive covenants

Rep. Jim Davnie explains provisions of his bill, HF51, which would create a statutory form that a homeowner could record with the county to discharge restrictive covenants affecting protected classes. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Homeowners who find racially restrictive covenants on their property titles could have an opportunity to place an affidavit on that title rejecting the covenant, under a bill passed 128-0 by the House Monday.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls), HF51 heads to the Senate where Sen. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Mpls) is the sponsor.

“This bill confronts historical inequities so that we can also attack the inequities of today,” Davnie said.

House Floor debate on HF51 2/4/19

An example of a restrictive covenant appeared in the property titles used by a Minneapolis developer in 1946 to ensure that only whites could move into the homes being built. It read: “No persons of any race other than the Aryan race shall use or occupy any building or any lot.”

Although it has been illegal to include such covenants in property titles since the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act in 1968, this type of language remains attached to many property titles. Because of that, Davnie said “they present a moral harm to today’s homeowners.”

Under the bill, an affidavit added to a title by a homeowner to reject a restrictive covenant would not alter the text of the title. That would allow future historians and social researchers to understand and continue to study these covenants.


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