The CAI Board of Trustees adopted a new public policy, Amendment Process to Remove Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants, that allows a community association board to remove antiquated and unenforceable discriminatory restrictions contained in covenants without a vote of owners.

Restrictive covenants, often contained within a deed, impose a restriction on the use of land. Typically, a community association must gain a majority vote of owners to amend their particular governing documents and remove a discriminatory restrictive covenant. CAI supports an association’s ability to remove these discriminatory covenants without owner approval through a simple process with the appropriate government agency.

It can be extremely expensive and time-consuming to notify all owners in a community association about amending their governing documents and difficult to convince them that their vote is necessary. There are a number of factors that contribute to the expenses and time attached to the amendment process, including the lengthy drafting process, homeowner approval, filing requirements, and attorney’s fees. According to Altitude Law, the entire amendment process typically takes between eight and 12 months depending on the time dedicated by the board to this process, community size, and whether the association is required to use the court petition process or certified notice to mortgagees process. CAI’s public policy encourages states to adopt legislation allowing a community association to bypass the voting requirement to remove any discriminatory and antiquated covenant restrictions.

Although the Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 makes racially restrictive covenants unenforceable in a court of law, they are still visible within deeds that predate the law. CAI advocates for the adoption of state legislation that provides for a process to allow for the removal of restrictions deemed to be discriminatory under FHA or state anti-discrimination laws.

California, Maryland, and Missouri have laws that provide a simple process for community associations to remove discriminatory covenants. CAI is hopeful that states without a simplified process will use this as guidance to create a process that easily, efficiently, and inexpensively allows a community association to remove these discriminatory covenants from their documents.

CAI’s new public policy is one of dozens of policies on important issues impacting the community association housing model. When an issue arises that impacts our members, CAI develops a public policy position to guide volunteer advocates and staff in their advocacy efforts. Learn more about CAI’s public policies.

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