Rodgers Forge became the first residential community in Maryland to take advantage of a 2018 law that empowered and required homeowners associations to proactively act to remove covenants that restrict homeownership based on skin color, religion, or nationality, according to The Baltimore Sun. In May, the Towson, Md., community altered 85 covenants written more than 70 years ago that restrict the neighborhood to whites only.

Although the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex, made these covenants unenforceable, Maryland communities are now formally stripping their documents of discriminatory language thanks to legislation passed in Maryland in 2018.

The Maryland General Assembly passed SB 621—Real Property – Deletion of Ownership Restrictions Based on Race, Religious Belief, or National Origin—last year. CAI’s Maryland Legislative Action Committee (LAC) worked closely with the Judicial Proceedings Senate Committee and Environment and Transportation House Committee to provide support and clarify amendments to Sen. Joan Carter Conway’s (District 43, Baltimore City) bill. Gov. Larry Hogan approved and signed the bill on May 15, 2018, and it became effective on Oct. 1.

Approximately 1,350,000 Marylanders live in 515,000 homes in 6,700 community associations. The opportunity to amend covenants is available to communities until Sept. 30. Each of these communities should follow Forge’s lead and review their deeds for this type of discriminatory language. A huge thank you is in order for the Maryland LAC for their time and efforts spent ensuring this legislation was passed. You can read more about the LAC’s efforts here: https://www.caionline.org/Advocacy/LAC/MD/Pages/default.aspx

Read more about Forge’s efforts to include inclusive language in their historic deeds here: https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-rodgers-forge-covenants-0605-story.html

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Phoebe E. Neseth, Esq.

Manager of Government Affairs

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