Restrictive Covenant Modifications
California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959, the Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1959, and the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 all prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and familial status.
Despite current federal and state laws, some subdivisions throughout the nation, state, and County of Marin that were developed prior to the passage of fair housing laws have covenants on record that contain restrictions that were outlawed by 1960s legislation. Even though the restrictions are now illegal and unenforceable, any person who has an ownership interest in real property that is subject to racially or otherwise unlawfully restrictive covenants has the right to record a Restrictive Covenant Modification. The process is outlined in Government Code Section 12956.2.
The Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk’s Office in collaboration with the Community Development Agency and the County’s Office of Equity has also launched the Restrictive Covenant Project, which allows residents of Marin to certify and affirm that illegal and racially restrictive covenants are unconstitutional and violate current laws and County values. In addition, Residents, former residents, and families who currently or formerly lived in Marin are encouraged to share personal stories about the impact of racial covenants in Marin. For more information about the Restrictive Covenant Project visit the project website.
For more information about protections from discriminatory housing, visit the ’s Marin County Fair Housing website.
How do I find a copy of my Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC & Rs)?
The easiest way to learn more about the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC & Rs) that affect your property is to review the title report you received from the title company when you purchased your property. You should have received a title report as part of the seller’s disclosure packet that also included information about annual property taxes and any outstanding liens on the property. The title company that completed the title search likely provided you with a complete copy of the CC & Rs. If your title report mentions recorded CC & Rs but you were not provided with a copy of them, you may view the recorded document in the Recorder’s Office located at the Marin County Civic Center in Room 232 during business hours of 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may purchase a copy of the restrictions while you’re in the office if needed. Alternately, you may order a copy of them from the Recorder's website.
If you cannot find a reference for CC & Rs mentioned in your title report, you may review the legal description for your property to locate a reference to a recorded map, which may provide you with a recording reference for CC & Rs.
What can I do if I discover I have racially, or otherwise unlawful restrictions recorded on my property?
As prescribed by Government Code 12956.2, you may record a Restrictive Covenant Modification. Although Marin County Recorder’s staff members are happy to provide you with as much information as possible about the process, under California law staff members are prohibited from providing legal advice or assisting with document preparation.
Our office supplies the recording requirements prescribed by the California Recorders’ Association. You will note that requirements include attaching a full copy of the restrictions with the unlawful verbiage stricken. In addition, the submitter (property owner) must sign the document in front of a notary public. The completed document may be submitted to the Recorder’s office, who will refer the document to Marin County Counsel staff for approval prior to recording. After approval by County Counsel, the document will be recorded for no fee and returned to the submitter within a few weeks.
What can I do if I have more questions about the process?
If you have additional questions about recording a Restrictive Covenant Modification, contact the Marin County Recorder’s Office by email, or call (415) 473-6093 during business hours (Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) As stated previously, Marin County Recorder’s Office staff members are prohibited by California law from providing advice or guidance about how to complete documents for recording.