Language from Seattle’s history of racist property restrictions can now be removed from properties thanks to a new law. While there are likely plenty of them to be flushed out on Capitol Hill, property owners might face a challenge sorting out whether legal remnants of the racist restrictions are part of their home’s records.
The new option, created by state law which went into effect January 1, allows homeowners to petition the King County Superior Court to completely delete the passage from the deed. There is a $20 filing fee with the court. Then you still have to file with the Recorder’s Office to seal the deal.
The county will maintain the original documents for the historical record but the effort will allow property owners who want to move on from including the racist language in a new version of the deed.
Most prevalent from the early 1920s through the early 1950s, these covenants would appear in the house’s title, legally forbidding a homeowner from selling, leasing or giving the house to a black person. Often, the wording would also exclude Asians, Jews, Arabs, and in some cases any “non-caucasians.” It was one form of legal enforcement behind redlining, a practice commonly used by racists in Seattle and around the country. Continue reading
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