Eliminating Racist (and Other Discriminatory) CC&Rs Creates Inclusive Communities


Eliminating Racist (and Other Discriminatory) CC&Rs Creates Inclusive Communities

Ms. Zoe Ann Olson, Executive Director of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council

Ms. Zoe Ann Olson, Executive Director of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc.

Guest blog post by Zoe Ann Olson, Executive Director, Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc.

About a year ago, a homebuyer came into my office and showed me the Covenant, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs—which restrict what homeowners can and can’t do with their property) for a home that he wished to purchase that was part of a homeowner’s association. He was shocked to see that one provision said, “No persons other than persons of the White race may reside on the property except domestic servants of the owner or tenant,” and wondered if he could still purchase the home or have his friends visit. I told him that the CC&R term was illegal and discriminatory, we helped address the language, and he purchased the home.

Real estate agents have also brought these discriminatory CC&Rs to Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC) concerned about the discriminatory language and the effect it may have on the purchase or sale of a home. In this post, I am going to talk about IFHC and share best practices for addressing discriminatory CC&Rs.

IFHC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure open and inclusive housing for all people. The IFHC’s purpose is to advance equal access to housing for all persons without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, familial status, gender identity, sexual orientation, source of income, or disability. The IFHC attempts to eradicate discrimination through education of the fair housing laws, housing information and referrals, housing counseling, and enforcement including filing complaints under the federal Fair Housing Act. To this end, community members, including real estate agents, contact us for help.

Before we discuss best practices for addressing discriminatory CC&Rs, it is important to understand how we ended up with them. Until the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelley v. Kraemer in 1948, which made such discriminatory language illegal, many subdivisions included racist language that denied people of color access to housing. In the early 19th century and through the 1950s, these CC&Rs were required by lenders and insurers participating federal loan programs and sometimes by city, county, or state law. These racist CC&Rs were also reinforced by homeowner’s associations (HOAs), agents, and other private entities in the transaction process, in order to maintain “all white” neighborhoods.

If you own a home in a subdivision that was created before or during the 1950s, you might want to take a look at the CC&Rs for this boilerplate language, as it was used throughout the Treasure Valley, Idaho, and the United States. While the federal Fair Housing Act outlawed such policies and practices, the lack of its enforcement means that little has been done to reverse the deeply embedded residential patterns of segregation.

With 2018 marking the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, it’s a great time to remind people of this issue and provide information on how to correct it. In addition to contacting IHFC forFair Housing Act_bug help, homeowners, potential buyers and sellers, and real estate agents can work together to address and eliminate discriminatory CC&Rs through the following best practices (not an exclusive list):

  1. Review the CC&Rs. If a discriminatory CC&R is identified, address it with the HOA board of directors, the HOA attorney, and/or an attorney who specializes in fair housing law… and if you’re a homeowner planning to sell your home, your real estate agent;
  2. Make sure your HOA attorney and the HOA board do not reaffirm the language;
  3. Follow your HOA rules for amending the CC&Rs, keeping in mind it may require a majority vote of the subdivision’s homeowners;
  4. If you can’t amend, adopt a resolution that the discriminatory provision is unenforceable. Make sure that every homeowner and the HOA have a copy of the resolution, and if the home is ever sold, that this resolution is provided to the buyers and all real estate agents involved in the transaction;
  5. If the home is sold before an amendment is made or a resolution is adopted, talk to the title companies involved in the transaction, as they may be able to have the language stricken;
  6. Check with Ada County Clerk’s Office about making changes to recorded documents;
  7. If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, read the Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein.

Engaging in best fair housing practices creates equitable housing for all, prevents most misunderstandings, and helps avoid fair housing violations. Owning a home in your neighborhood of choice is part of the American dream. Together, we can help make that a reality.

 

About the Author

Ms. Zoe Ann Olson has been the Executive Director of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc., for over five years. Ms. Olson has 14 years of experience as an attorney with Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., where she served as the Housing Specialty Chair and Fair Housing/Fair Lending Project Director. Ms. Olson has provided fair housing training for over 10 years and has been trained extensively on the issue of fair housing via John Marshall University, Seattle University, HUD, Accessibility First, National Consumer Law Center, National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), and AARP. She served on the Board of Directors for the Idaho Law Foundation, is a member of the Diversity Law, Real Property Law, Animal Law Sections, and Government and Public Law Sections of the Idaho State Bar, and Idaho Woman Lawyers. She is also a member of the Urban Land Institute, the Boise City/Ada County Coalition for the Homeless, NAACP, NFHA, and Girl Scouts.

For more information, contact Intermountain Fair Housing Council Executive Director Zoe Ann Olson at 1-208-383-0695 (extension 306), email her at zolson@ifhcidaho.org, or visit IHFC’s website at ifhcidaho.org.

 

Want to learn more about Fair Housing?

What Your REALTOR®’s Designation Means

Finding the right professional to help you navigate a real estate transaction is smart. At BRR, we always recommend working with a REALTOR®. That term, “REALTOR®,” indicates a real estate licensee who is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and has agreed to abide by a strict Code of Ethics.

And within the REALTOR® membership, there are those who have earned additional designations, giving them additional knowledge and resources into various niche markets or pieces of the transaction.

We’ve compiled a list of directories where you can search for a REALTOR® based on these designations:

For Residential Real Estate Services

ABR

Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) — Find a REALTOR® focused on working directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the home-buying process.

 

 

CRS

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) — Find a REALTOR® who has completed advanced education around the listing and sale of residential real estate, and who completes a certain number of transactions annually.

 

 

mrpdesc

Military Relocation Professional (MRP) — Find a REALTOR® focused on working with current and former military service members.

 

 

rsps_logo

Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) — Find a REALTORS® who specializes in buying, selling, or management of properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in resort, recreational, and/or vacation destinations. (NOTE: Select “Resort & Second-Home Property Specialist” under the Certifications section.)

 

SRS_vctrLGO+txtSeller Representative Specialist (SRS) — Find a REALTOR® focused on working directly with seller-clients.

 

 

SRESSeniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) — Find a REALTOR® focused on meeting the needs of maturing Americans when selling, buying, relocating, or refinancing residential or investment properties.

 

 

For Commercial Real Estate Services

CCIM-220Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) — Real estate professionals who are experts in the commercial and investment real estate industry. CCIMs include brokers, leasing professionals, investment counselors, asset managers, appraisers, corporate real estate executives, property managers, developers, institutional investors, commercial lenders, attorneys, bankers, and other more.

 

CPMCertified Property Managers® (CPM®) — Experts in the management of public housing developments, apartment complexes, homeowners’ associations, manufactured housing parks, mixed use and office buildings, parking garages, single- and multi-family rental housing, student housing, and more.

 

 

SIORSociety of Industrial and Office REALTORS® (SIOR) — Specialists in the industrial and office markets of real estate, with a minimum of three years’ experience and who have completed a certain number of transactions.

 

 

Other Business Specialties

ACLAccredited Land Consultants (ALCs) — REALTORS® who are experts in brokering sales and purchases of land, including investments, tax deferred 1031 exchanges, and more.

 

 

CIPSlogoCertified International Property Specialist (CIPS) — REALTORS® who have undergone specialized training focused on conducting business in the international real estate arena.

 

 

PrintGreen — REALTORS® who have taken advanced education to counsel clients on issues of energy efficiency and sustainability in real estate.

 

 

SFRShort Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR®) — REALTORS® who have taken advanced education to help buyers and sellers of distressed properties. (NOTE: Select “Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource” under the Certifications section.)

 

To search for REALTORS® across these designations and more, nationwide or here in the Boise region, visit realtor.com® or the National Association of REALTORS® using their “Find a REALTOR®” tools.

Are you a REALTOR® looking to get on one of these lists? Visit NAR’s Designations and Certifications page for details on the designations listed above. You’ll also find information about other programs that will enhance your business management skills and knowledge of the real estate industry, including: At Home With Diversity® (AHWD®), Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB), Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (C-RETS), Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI), Performance Management Network (PMN), Pricing Strategy Advisory (PSA), Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RNE), e-PRO®, as well as, the General Accredited Appraiser (GAA) and Residential Accredited Appraiser (RAA).