An early form of housing discrimination similar to the practices of redlining, blockbusting, and steering, restrictive covenants on residential deeds were often used in the early to mid-1900s to explicitly prohibit people of a certain race, creed, color, national origin, or other protected class from buying a home in certain neighborhoods.
Removing any existing restrictive covenant language on deeds that violate protections explicitly granted under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) was advanced by the Assembly Housing Committee on Wednesday.
Assemblywoman Quijano issued the following statement on the bill:
“Racially restrictive covenants were a major contributing factor to the racial wealth gap in America, barring access for minorities and people of color from buying homes in wealthy or middle-class neighborhoods and preventing the ability to build equity on these homes for future generations.
“Although the restrictive covenants are no longer enforceable due to federal and state civil rights legislation like the Law in Discrimination statute, the text of these covenants remains on many deeds for older houses to this day. There’s absolutely no reason for this discriminatory language in residential deeds to continue to carry forward transfer after transfer. Removing this language from existing deeds will help New Jersey move past this discriminatory era of legalized segregation and promote equality in housing access among people of all backgrounds.”
The bill (A-5390) would require the removal of racially discriminatory language restricting the ownership or use of real property as prohibited by the LAD from all deeds recorded after January 1, 2021. The bill also requires a county clerk or a register of deeds and mortgages to refuse any deed submitted for recordation that references the specific portion of any such restrictive covenant. A property owner would have the opportunity to release such a restrictive covenant by recording a “Certificate of Release of Certain Prohibited Covenants” with the county clerk, or register of deeds and mortgages, as appropriate, in the county the real property is located.
The legislation will now go to the Speaker for further review.