Removal of Racial Covenants

Have You Checked Your Deed?

Some residents may find discriminatory language in their property deed that restricts homeownership based on race. These restrictions, known as racial covenants, are illegal and no longer in effect. They began in the mid-19th century and continued into the mid-20th century. They were recorded when a lot was created or when a home was built. Backed by federal legislation in the 1930s, systematic racism became widespread across America through what is known as bank redlining. Redlining prohibited home loans to certain races and ethnicities.

The Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive covenants in 1948, and they were outlawed by the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, because so many of them remain in deeds and private covenants and restrictions, or “CC&Rs”, some states, including Oregon, have adopted laws to help homeowners remove them from their deeds. The Oregon laws authorizing a streamlined process for removing racial covenants from deeds are contained in ORS 93.270 (Certain restrictions in conveyancing instruments prohibited; restriction on right of action) and ORS 93.274 (Procedure for removal of discriminatory restrictions).

The City does not have authority to remove or request the Court remove language from property records; only the property owner can ask the Court to do that. If you have access to a copy of the documents that you signed when you bought your house, you should be able to locate the property deed within those documents. If not, you can obtain a copy of the deed from the applicable County Recorder’s Office or by contacting a title company. Both may charge a small fee.

Clackamas County Recorder
1710 Red Soils Ct. #110
Oregon City, OR 97045

Multnomah County Recorder
501 SE Hawthorne Blvd #127
Portland, OR 97214

The removal process is administered by the Circuit Court for the county in which the property is located, and it is free. To request to have racial covenant removed from your deed, contact the applicable Circuit Court.

Clackamas County Circuit Court
807 Main Street
Oregon City, OR 97045

Multnomah County Circuit Court
1120 Third Avenue
Portland, OR 97204