Legislative Priorities

SB 30: “Royce West Act” to Remove Racist Restrictions from Real Estate Deeds

At the request of State Senator John Whitmire, the City of Houston was proud to join in the advocacy for the passage of SB 30 during the 87th Legislative session.

State Senator Royce West passed Senate Bill 3, which would create an easier process for removing racist restrictions from real estate deeds.

Prohibiting property ownership based on race, color, religion, or national origin in deeds was made illegal by the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act, and that discriminatory language was voided by the 1983 Texas Legislature. However, property owners currently must go through separate court proceedings to have the racist restrictions removed.

SB 30 will instruct county clerks to retrieve deeds to properties at the request of a property owner or an interest in real property and remove language that prohibits ownership of the property based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

Senator West noted,

“SB 30 removes another brick from the walls that divide people based on their color or race that generations of conscientious Americans have struggled to dismantle,” said Senator West. “Even though the Supreme Court ruled that these type restrictions were in violation of the 14th Amendment decades ago, property owners and scholars say the language can still be found in deeds, not only in Texas, but across the country. There are issues that my colleagues disagree on and may continue to disagree on, but we stand united today in saying that such discriminatory edicts in legal documents in our state should be a thing of the past.”

“After working on this issue for months and filing similar legislation this past November, I am proud to join my colleagues in co-authoring Senator West’s legislation to put an end to racist deed restrictions,” said Senator Whitmire. “Racial deed restrictions were put in place for the sole purpose of banning blacks and other minorities from living in certain neighborhoods in Texas and I join with Senator West and the entire Senate to once and for all right this injustice.”

A federal court ruling said the continued existence of these deed restrictions within documents was a violation of federal law. However, neither federal nor state law provides a process for the language to be removed from deeds without separate court proceedings. SB 30 accomplishes that.

The bill requires the Texas Attorney General to create a form that can be used by property owners or a person with an interest in real property to request the removal of the discriminatory clauses by the county clerk.