Forwarded: Covenant Communities

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Fri, 23 Dec 1994 20:33:24 PST

On Dec 23, 1994, Rob Prince wrote:

>A friend told me a story today about a Black family in Texas a
>year or two ago who bought a home from a white family in what
>is called a `covenant community'. To keep the Black family
>out, the community went to court, suing on the basis of the
>fine print in the community charter.
>Is anyone familiar with this story who can provide a citation?

A suit of this nature in any state of the U. S. would likely be
unsuccessful because such covenants are against Federal law. The
covenants that were on the books before the Federal laws came
into effect are void. Federal law prempts state law on this
issue. Most states have similar laws further prohibiting non-
discrimination in housing. For information purposes, applicable
Federal laws include:

1. Title VIII of the U. S. Civil Rights Act of 1969, as amended
in 1988.

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color,
religion, sex, handicap, famial status, or national origin in
the sale or rental of housing. Prohibited acts include
refusing to sell or rent, discriminating on terms,
discriminatory sdvertising, discrimination in the provisions
of brokerage services, "steering", and "redlining".

2. Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870, 42 U.S.C Sections 1981,

a. This act provides that "all persons have the same right to
make and enforce contracts, to the full and equal benefit of
all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and
property as is enjoyed by white citizens."

b. Cases have held that these laws prohibit refusing to
sell lots to African Americans, homeowner's association's
discriminatory interference with the sale of a home to a
black person, racial based steering, racially motivated
opposition to the construction of low-income housing.

>Is anyone familiar, and know much/anything about the literature
>on covenant communities in the USA. I would be grateful to
>any leads people might have.
A covenant on real estate is an unambigous legal term which means
an agreement or promise to do or not to do a particular act such
as a promise to build a house of a particular architectural style
or to use or not to use a property in a certain way. Use of a
label like "covenant community" thus does not have clear meaning
since many communities typically have numerous covenants. For
example in Calif., virtually all condominium associations have a
recorded set of C C & R's (covenants, conditions, and
restrictions). Covenants can be placed in a deed, but they are
void if they violate the law. In the case of covenants based on
race, they violate Federal law as stated above. Maybe it would
be more clear to simply state you're looking for historical
information on communities that have excluded blacks or other