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During the first half of the 20th century, and especially in the years following World War I, it became common for some developers and property owners to impose discriminatory restrictive covenants when selling real estate. These covenants appeared in many places across the United States and typically targeted people who were not white or were of certain faiths.
Hennepin County Covenants mapDiscriminatory restrictive covenants have not been enforceable since a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision, and such discrimination was outlawed in Minnesota in 1962 and nationwide in 1968; however, these covenants did help create the segregation in the Twin Cities region that persists to this day. Our region has some of the largest racial disparities in the country in terms of income, wealth, home ownership, education and health. And because these covenants were contained in recorded documents, they remain on the official property record even though they no longer have any legal effect.

You can find additional information on the University of Minnesota’s Mapping Prejudice website, including an extensive collection of data & maps and the Twin Cities Public Television documentary Jim Crow of the North.

What are other units of government doing?
• In 2019 the Minnesota Legislature passed a law (M.S. 507.18) to allow property owners to renounce a restrictive covenant on their property by recording a specific legal document.
• To provide an incentive for property owners to renounce restrictive covenants, Hennepin County has waived the recording fee.
Just Deeds• The Golden Valley Human Rights Commission started a project to help community members renounce restrictive covenants. The project relies on volunteer experts to provide free legal and title services to help property owners find out whether such covenants exist on their property and, if so, to formally renounce the covenants. Golden Valley has invited other cities to participate in the project, the Just Deeds Coalition, and is coordinating efforts to make volunteer experts available to property owners in other cities. For more information please visit the Just Deeds Coalition website.

Crystal Area Covenants MapWhat is the City of Crystal doing?
Approximately 5% of Crystal’s 7,600 houses are known to have a discriminatory restrictive covenant (see the map on the left). These covenants are found in portions of 8 of the city’s 14 neighborhoods, and mostly in the Welcome Park, Lee Park and Valley Place neighborhoods.

Crystal is joining with other cities in the Just Deeds Coalition to provide information about the existence and history of discriminatory restrictive covenants and connect property owners with volunteer legal and title experts to help them renounce such covenants on their property. The City of Crystal is also exploring taking action to renounce any discriminatory restrictive covenants on land it owns.

You can view an interactive map showing Hennepin County properties known to have discriminatory restrictive covenants. Please note that most properties with such covenants are shown on this map – but not all. 

Is there a discriminatory covenant on your property?
Example of CovenantTo get started looking for a discriminatory restrictive covenant on your property, and to request assistance with renouncing it if one is present, follow the instructions on the Just Deeds Request Form. There is also an easy to submit request form below. 

Upon receipt of your completed form, city staff will connect you with a volunteer title and legal expert who can help you determine whether there is a discriminatory restrictive covenant on your property, and if so, help you complete the process of renouncing it by preparing and recording the specific legal document to renounce the covenant if you choose to do so.

Direct any questions to justdeeds@crystalmn.gov and Crystal staff will respond.
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Just Deeds Request Form (Crystal Properties only)
Property Address:   
Property I.D. Number (if known):   
Your Name:   
Spouse's Name (if married):   
 Email:   
 Phone Number:   
Are there other property owners?:   Yes   No 
 If yes, list names of other property owners:   


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