One of my clients is buying a home in an older neighborhood off Mukilteo Blvd. in Everett. Her title report records the CCR (also known as CC&R), which stands for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. CCRs are intended for the home buyer, who reads through the covenants and decides whether to agree to them.
This particular neighborhood covenant was signed, dated, and notarized on February 18, 1944. The CCR states that the covenant is binding through January 1, 1960, and then automatically extended “for successive periods of ten (10) years” unless a majority of the owners vote to change said covenants in whole or in part.
The CCR contains the usual stipulations about residence size, as well as rules pertaining to the construction of “Out Buildings.”
There’s even an item about “Noxious Use of Property,” which designates that “no noxious, illegal, or offensive trade, or use of land shall be carried on… or anything which may be, or become, an annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood.”
But one item really caught the attention of the home buyer. It was Item 9: Racial Restrictions. It states:
“No race or nationality other than the White or Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building on any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race of nationality employed by an owner or tenant.”
The home buyer – a single Caucasian mom of two bi-racial sons – was absolutely shocked. Understandably, she did not want the Racial Restrictions on the title report, so I called the title company and they removed Item 9 from the report.
It’s intriguing and more than a bit disconcerting that these types of restrictions remain on title reports today.
Racially Restrictive Covenants
Prior to the 1960s, many covenants were used for segregationist purposes. However, African Americans openly defied these covenants, and in 1948, the U.S. Supreme court ruled racially restrictive covenants unenforceable, in Shelley v. Kraemer.
However, private contracts kept them alive until The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discriminating on the basis of race or color.
What’s in a CCR?
Typically, CCRs cover the following topics:
- Exterior paint colors
- Required siding
- Pet restrictions, including rules about barking dogs, unchained pets, livestock and poultry, and breeding for profit
- Road maintenance fees
- Easement rights (such as a pathway for power lines)
- Storing RVs or dead vehicles on the property
- In-home businesses
- Outdoor television antenna (whether they’re allowed, and if so, placement of antenna)
- Garage use (some CCRs specify that garages are to be used only for parking vehicles, not as storage units, home offices, or man caves)
- Maintenance of joint property (such as a neighborhood swimming pool or playground)
- Fencing (whether fences are allowed, and if so, which type and how high)
- Set backs (how far homes must be from streets and interior lot lines)
- Home rentals
- Common areas (times at which exercise rooms, tennis courts, or pools can be used)
- Trash (where trash receptacles must be stored; how soon cans must be taken in from the street after the garbage is collected)
And, of course, there are rules about how to change or void the covenants!
Does your home’s CCR contain any unusual rules? Please share them.