In the past, discriminatory covenants were used to keep people of color and certain ethnicities and religious groups from buying houses in certain Minnesota neighborhoods. The covenants resulted in segregated communities and adverse effects on those blocked from ownership, including a lack of access to quality education, policing, parks and public transportation. Our community still feels the impacts from discriminatory covenants and other racist housing policies today.
In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that covenants were unenforceable. By 1953, the Minnesota Legislature prohibited the use of such 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.
Discriminatory covenants were found on 52 public properties.
On June 1, 2021, the City Council approved Resolution 2021-43 (PDF), condemning the use of discriminatory covenants, discharging them from City-owned property and approving participation in the Just Deeds coalition to help Edina residents remove such covenants from private property.
On June 18, 2021, the City completed discharging the discriminatory covenants on the 52 properties.
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 get free help from Just Deeds.
Assistance from the Just Deeds Project
The Just Deeds Project helps homeowners discharge restrictive covenants on their property for free. Other Minnesota cities also 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 assistance to find and renounce a restrictive covenant from your property, fill out the Just Deeds application. A volunteer expert will contact you directly about your property.