RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS IN REAL ESTATE
We got a lesson in real estate history recently when we uncovered the land deed to my grandparent's home in Silver Spring, MD. For a sum of about $5000, the deed awards Eugene & Beulah Burr a land lot on Pershing Drive, Silver Spring. The document, written by the development company, Silver Spring Commercial Properties, also contains a number of restrictions-some quite reasonable and some-frankly repugnant.
Restrictive covenants are quite common in real estate-every homeowner's & condo association has them. They allow the oversight body to regulate things like maintenance standards-among many other things. They are perfectly legal if written within statutory guidelines. One of the things I learned in real estate school was that these covenants have been used to enforce prejudice-and this is the case here.
Here's the offending language:
"For purposes of sanitation and health, the property can not be sold, transferred, or rented to a member of a race whose death rate is greater than that of the white race, or to a member of the negro race."
The deed is signed by one E. Brooke Lee, who is apparently well-known today as a segregationist real estate developer.
In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that these racially discriminatory covenants are unenforceable. However, despite this, their effects have taken many decades to be reversed. Happily, today Silver Spring is a vibrant multi-racial/cultural community that I love to visit.