When you look up property records you can find out a lot about a given piece of real estate. Much of it is real information you need to know about. That includes whether it has code violations and if the roof needs to be replaced. That’s all well and good to look out for. But there may also be some information you don’t want to find out. And on the reverse side of this coin if you own a property and want to sell it you don’t want this information to pop up when you are trying to sell your home.
What is this information? It’s racist language attached to the deed.
Now for once Maryland is thinking about taking steps to remove this information from you property records so neither the buyer nor the selling needs to see them.
The Washington Post recently took a look at this situation in Maryland and it’s sort of shocking to see the data that is still attached to many properties in the state.
One typical property record they found dated May 6, 1946, explains, property “shall never be used or occupied by. . . negroes or any person or persons, of negro blood or extraction, or to any person of the Semitic Race, blood or origin, or Jews, Armenians, Hebrews, Persians and Syrians, except. . . partial occupancy of the premises by domestic servants.”
That’s still on the public property records and it doesn’t look good.
There are tens of thousands of public property records that still have this sort of language embedded in them and they don’t make anyone look good.
While it’s true that these orders attached to the properties have not been enforced in years, they do not make the property look as attractive as it should. It’s like owning a property with a black mark against it.
As of October 1, a new law came into effect that would allow homeowners to remove this racist language for free simply by going to court and making a legal request to have it deleted.
Del. Catherine M. Forbes (D-Baltimore County), who sponsored the Maryland legislation, said she got the idea after meeting a woman who was surprised to learn a covenant on her home excluded members of several racial groups.
“My constituents really wanted their deeds to reflect the communities where they live and their own personal values,” she said. “The state should do everything in its power to make this easy.”
Other laws are being considered to remove the racist language from the deeds. We are PropertyRecords.com think this is a good thing. There is no reason why outdated language from a racist past should continue haunting the property records of these properties. We suspect that many other states have the same problem and should address it in the same way.
After all, we are not living in 1946 anymore. It’s time to act like the grown up much more progressive nation we have become today.