johnson 051221SPRINGFIELD – Illinois homeowners can more quickly, easily and affordably remove racist language from their property deeds under a new law sponsored by State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove).

“Racial covenants have held back Black and Brown families for generations, and many residents may not even be aware that the language still lingers in their property deeds,” Johnson said. “Homeowners shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to strike such harmful and antiquated provisions from their property records.”

The law allows individuals, condominium associations, unit owners’ associations and other property owners to remove language for unlawful restrictive covenants from recorded property interests, including deeds to property, by submitting a request to the local county recorder.

Under Johnson’s law, the recorder can charge a fee of no more than $10 for filing a restrictive covenant modification.

“No one should feel unwelcome in their own neighborhood because of disgraceful and archaic language in their property ownership documents,” said State Representative Daniel Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), the sponsor of the measure in the House. “The new streamlined process to remove those provisions will advance our goal of building a state where no one is disadvantaged because of their race or religion.”

Starting in the 1920s and continuing throughout the mid-20th century, the Federal Housing Authority actively segregated metropolitan areas, guaranteeing bank loans for the construction and development of suburbs on the condition that the sale of the homes in that suburb be restricted by race. Deeds to these homes also included racial restrictive covenants prohibiting resale of the home to people of a certain race.

In 1948 the Supreme Court deemed all racial restrictive covenants unenforceable. Despite this ruling, developers and realtors continued to include racial restrictive covenants in deeds until 1968, when the FHA outlawed these covenants altogether.

“Racial covenants are no longer enforceable, but they are a painful relic of the historical harms done to our communities of color,” Johnson said. “Eliminating racist language from our government documents is an important step toward rooting out racism in all our systems.”

House Bill 58 takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.