Commissioner funds fees to remove racist language from property records

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By Bob Conrad and Jeri Chadwell

Racist language in property records can be removed thanks to a 2019 bill passed by the Nevada legislature. But to do it in Washoe County, it’s going to cost $ 43 per disc.

This is because Washoe County fees are set by law.

“You can file these documents with the Registrar if you have racist engaging language on your property,” Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill said. “I received a complaint about these charges, which I was not aware of… I wanted to make this recording myself, for my house, because I have a house from 1948 and I didn’t have it. still took the time. “

Washoe County Commissioner Alexis Hill

To keep people from having to pay those fees, Hill said she was using her commissioner’s funds to cover the costs of homeowners wanting to update their property records.

Racist language dates back to the early days of the state

Older properties throughout the county have racist language contained in their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) statements.

The language differs depending on the neighborhood and the age of the houses, but it generally denotes a prohibition on selling or occupying houses by anyone other than those of the Caucasian race.

These types of discriminatory housing policies were made null and void by the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and in particular by the Federal Fair Housing Act which was passed as Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act. civil rights in 1968.

Discriminatory CC&R should have been inapplicable from 1948, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Shelley vs. Kraemer that while private parties could abide by the terms of these restrictive covenants, they could not seek their judicial application as this would require state action that would violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Discriminatory CC&R have existed in Nevada since the inception of the state. But in 1933, faced with a housing shortage, the federal government launched a program to increase and separate the U.S. housing stock.

The National Housing Act of 1934, a New Deal program, created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) as well as the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation. The FHA was designed to provide housing assistance to lower middle class families without the money for a large down payment, but only white families.

The 2019 law offers a new option for homeowners

Senate Bill 117 was sponsored by State Senators Julia Ratti and Dallas Harris. It deals directly with discriminatory CC&R and has been spurred on by requests from owners to their elected officials.

The bill resulted in the implementation of a law that allows homeowners to file a single document with their county registrar called the Declaration of Removal of Discriminatory Restrictions. The document does not physically strike any historical documents.

“What this does is it gives homeowners who own a property with discriminatory language in their [CC&Rs] and other miscellaneous property documents that have this discriminatory language predating the Fair Housing Act, ”said Kalie Work, county registrar. “It basically refers to that language and allows them to disavow that language from their property records.”

Racist and discriminatory language in CC&R is common in the county, according to Work.

“It’s also not unique to Washoe County,” Work added. “It’s statewide and nationwide, of course.”

Work said the charges are a long-standing charge she doesn’t control. In the meantime, Hill encourages people to update their property records.

“We want to make it known that this is something people can do,” Hill added. “It is definitely something that is needed.”

The form to remove the language is available online: https://washoecounty.gov/recorder/


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