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What are Discriminatory Covenants and What You Need to Know About Them

On September 4th, 2020 a long overdue law came into effect in the state of Florida which removes outdated and discriminatory language in title and other real estate transactions.

This new law clearly defines and prohibits “discriminatory restrictions” from any title transaction recorded in the State of Florida. It also created a new section of the Florida Statues in the Marketable Record Title Act. The statute declares that all discriminatory restrictions in any title transaction are “unlawful,” “unenforceable” and “null and void.”

While racial or other discriminatory restrictions in real estate transactions have not been legally enforceable for some time, there was still a tedious and arbitrary process that one had to go through to overturn such language. A person who felt discriminated against had to go through a series of bureaucratic red tape and petition for an administrative hearing. The new bill essentially expedites the process for challenging discriminatory housing practices.

It’s time to check your CC&Rs

Unless your governing documents have been written or reviewed in the recent past for these discriminatory covenants, it’s time to give your CC&Rs a long, hard look. In modern community bylaws and governing documents it’s unlike that you will have any blatant discriminatory covenants, but if you have older documents they could still contain some of this language.

With the potentially broad effects that this new law could entail, it’s a great idea to have your documents reviewed by a community law attorney to check whether or not your association may need to amend certain covenants or language.

Still work to be done

The new law doesn’t provide clear direction on how offending language can be removed, who’s responsible for doing so, or where property owners or home buyers can go to start and finish the process. But it is a step in the right direction.

The new Florida Statute does tackle these discriminatory restrictions and covenants by allowing for any owner who falls victim to these discriminations to request removal by a majority vote of the board of directors, without owners having to vote.

We’re very happy to see this new law take effect and hope that it will be a step toward addressing the larger issues of discriminatory housing. If you need your community’s CC&Rs reviewed or if you feel that language in your association’s governing documents is discriminatory, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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