Restrictive Covenant Modifications
Applications and Forms
- Restrictive Covenant Modification Implementation Plan
- Restrictive Covenant Modification Form-AB1466 - INYO
- Restrictive Covenant Modification Form-AB721-RCM for Affordable Housing - INYO
A covenant is a legally enforceable contract imposed in a deed upon the buyer of property. Racially restrictive covenants refer to legal agreements that prohibit the purchase, lease, or occupation of a piece of property by a particular group of people and that prohibit the homeowner from selling or renting to anybody of a specific race or ethnic background.
Restrictive covenants were an effective way to segregate neighborhoods and stabilize the property values of white families, and beginning in 1934, the Federal Housing Authority recommended the inclusion of restrictive covenants in the deeds of homes it insured. These racially restrictive covenants made it illegal for many races other than Caucasian to purchase, lease or rent homes in white communities. In a landmark 1948 ruling, the Supreme Court deemed all racial restrictive covenants unenforceable. While Titles VIII and IX of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, also known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing in housing-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, marital status, and familial status, many restrictive covenants continue to remain in property deeds throughout Sonoma County.
Removal of Unlawful Discriminatory Covenants from Property Documents
- Prior to 1/1/2022, a person who held an ownership interest of record in a property were eligible to submit a Restrictive Covenant Modification form to the County Recorder with the unlawfully restrictive covenant language stricken (strike-through).
- Beginning 1/1/2022, Assembly Bill 1466 authorizes a person who holds an ownership interest of record in property that the person believes is the subject of an unlawfully restrictive covenant in violation of Government Code Section 12955(l) to record a Restrictive Covenant Modification document to have the illegal language redacted (blacked-out). Unlawful restrictions include those restrictions based on age, race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, familial status, marital status, disability, genetic information, national origin, source of income as defined in subdivision (p) of Section 12955, veteran or military status, or ancestry.
- Beginning 7/1/2022, any person including those who do not have an ownership interest in the property, including County Recorders, to record Restrictive Covenant Modifications to address unlawful restrictive covenants. AB 1466 (2021) requires all County Recorders to develop a plan to identify and redact restrictive covenant documents with illegal language in their historical records. Upon the discovery of such a document, the County Recorder shall request approval from County Counsel to redact the illegal language by rerecording the document as a Restrictive Covenant Modification with the illegal language masked so that it is no longer readable.
Steps to request Recording a Restrictive Covenant Modification per AB1466:
As outlined in our Restrictive Covenant Modification Implementation Plan, the County Clerk-Recorder's Office will be searching and initiating this process with recorded documents in our office. This process may take many years to complete based on volume and availability of staff time. However, if any member of the public wishes to request a specific document they have that meets the criteria for redaction, they may follow this process to initiate the Restrictive Covenant Modification recording.
- Complete a Restrictive Covenant Modification Form-AB1466 - INYO
- Attach a copy of the original document containing the unlawful restrictive language with the unlawful language Redacted. No other modifications are lawfully permitted.
- Submit the completed Restrictive Covenant Modification form and the original document (with unlawful restrictive covenants redacted) to the County Clerk-Recorder's Office. No fee is required for this service.
- The County Clerk-Recorder's Office will send the completed form and redacted document to County Counsel who shall determine whether the original document contains any unlawful restrictions and whether all redactions are lawfully authorized.
- If approved by County Counsel, the Restrictive Covenant Modification is recorded, imaged, and indexed by the County Clerk-Recorder's Office, and will be returned to the submitter by mail.
- If the Office of the County Counsel finds that the original document does not contain an unlawful restriction, or contains unauthorized modifications, then the County Clerk-Recorder's Office will not record the Restrictive Covenant Modification, and it will be returned to the submitter by mail.
NOTE: The County Clerk-Recorder's Office is strictly prohibited from altering, changing, obliterating, or inserting new matters into any historical documents that have already been recorded into our Official Public Records. The County Clerk-Recorder's staff members are happy to provide you with as much information as possible about the process; however, under California law staff members are prohibited from providing legal advice or assisting with document preparation.