Renouncing Racial Covenants
History of Covenants
In the past, discriminatory covenants were used to keep people of color from buying houses in certain Minnesota neighborhoods. The covenants resulted in segregated communities and adverse effects on people of color, including a lack of access to quality education, policing, parks and public transportation.
In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that covenants were unenforceable. By 1953, the Minnesota Legislature prohibited the use of racial restrictions in warranty deeds. But covenants remained commonplace in much of the nation until 1968, when the federal Fair Housing Act made them explicitly illegal. Even after they were illegal, for a long time there was no way to remove the language from property titles.
Minnesota law now allows property owners to renounce discriminatory language from property titles. According to the University of Minnesota project Mapping Prejudice, approximately 2,800 residential properties in Edina have racially restrictive covenants in their deeds. Several City-owned properties have them, too.
Actions to Take
The City is working to renounce covenants on its properties and encourages residents to do the same.
- Check the Mapping Prejudice tool to see if a covenant was found on your deed.
- If a restrictive covenant exists on your property, you can hire your title company to renounce it from your property deed. Note that fees vary. Or you can wait until the City finalizes joining the Just Deeds Project (see below).
Just Deeds Project
The City will be joining the Just Deeds Project to help homeowners who need free legal and title services to do this work. To date, 10 other Minnesota cities are part of the project, including Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Hopkins, Rochester, St. Louis Park and Richfield. Since its founding, the Just Deeds Project has discharged more than 100 covenants for free.
If you are interested in free services to remove a restrictive covenant from your property, fill out the Renouncing Racial Covenants form. City staff will contact you once the Just Deeds program is up and running.
To keep up to date on the City's Equity work in Edina, visit the City Extra signup page and select Race & Equity Advancement in the City Government category (along with any other email lists you'd like to join).