Restrictive covenants are restrictions on the use of land detailed in the body of recorded legal documents. In the past (primarily between 1910 and 1960) these were sometimes used to restrict the sale, lease, or transfer of property to specific groups based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, disability, and other groups. These restrictive covenants against protected classes are illegal and no longer enforceable after various court rulings and legislation (Minnesota Statute 507.18, subd. 5).
The University of Minnesota Libraries, together with communities across Minnesota and the nation are working towards identifying and mapping racial covenants. The Mapping Prejudice Project focuses on identifying discriminatory covenants embedded in property deeds that were once used to prevent certain people from buying or occupying land/homes in many Minnesota areas.
Beginning in November of 2020, Anoka County entered into an agreement with Mapping Prejudice at the University of Minnesota Libraries providing access to digital property records, which allows them to identify properties that are affected by discriminatory covenants. For more information, please go to: https://mappingprejudice.umn.edu/.
How to check for restrictive covenants:
Mapping Prejudice – this is not a definitive list of properties, but it is the most comprehensive.
Consult a licensed abstract professional or a title company who is familiar with researching real property records.
What to do if you find these restrictive covenants:
Because restrictive covenants affecting protected classes are no longer enforceable, you can choose to do nothing, or you can act based on whether your property’s land type is Abstract or Torrens.
Torrens – If your property is Torrens, most of these restrictive covenants have already been removed, If one is discovered, please contact the Examiner of Titles office at Tracy.Ekberg@anokacountymn.gov and the issue will be addressed with a directive. More information regarding directives can be found here how to request an examiner's directive.
Abstract – If your property is Abstract, you may choose to discharge the covenant by taking the following steps.
1. Obtain the following information from the document containing the restrictive covenant affecting protected classes: