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I want to remove a discriminatory provision from a deed.

Discriminatory Deed Provisions

Use this guide to remove a discriminatory provision from your property deed.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not legal advice and are not a substitute for the help of a lawyer. 

This guide includes the paperwork and instructions for clearing a discriminatory provision from a property deed in Texas.  

Texas law forbids provisions in real property deeds that restrict the use of or transfer to someone because of their race, color, nationality, or religion.

A Texas court will refuse to enforce discriminatory provisions. But many older deeds and property transfer documents (“conveyance instruments”) still contain discriminatory provisions. 

TexasLawHelp thanks the Opal Lee Mitchell Property Preservation Project of the Earl Carl Institute at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law for their help with this guide.

Research Tips

Common questions about Discriminatory Deed Provisions

A deed is a legal paper that transfers real estate ownership and is recorded (filed) in the local land records.

Look at the document itself. The wording will sound discriminatory. It may say that the property's use, sale, or lease can be restricted simply because of the race, color, religion, or national origin of the buyer or renter, for example. 

If you do not have a copy of your deed, contact the county clerk's office in the county where the property is located. You might have to go to the county office to do this research.

A document, such as a deed or will, that transfers property from one person to another.

While racially discriminatory deeds are illegal under Texas law, and cannot be enforced, they may nonetheless still be there on paper. The court can order such provisions removed.  

The Order removing a discriminatory deed provision is a “finding of fact and conclusion of law” that goes on file in the county clerk’s office along with the other documents affecting that piece of land.  

This means that a judge has determined that the discriminatory language was there; is void and not enforceable; and is considered to be removed from the conveyance instrument (usually the deed).  

File a petition to remove a discriminatory provision in the district or county clerk's office in the county where the land is. The conveyance instrument that contains the discriminatory provision will be on file in the county clerk's office. 

No. Get a copy of the actual deed from the county where the property is located. The legal description of the property in tax records can be incomplete or inaccurate.  

While copies of the deedand information about where the official documents are filedare often available on the internet, not every Texas county might have digital records.

You need your deed in order to attach a copy of it to the Petition. Plus, the deed must be on file, or "recorded," for a Petition to Remove a Discriminatory Deed Provision to be effective.

You may have to go to the county clerk’s office in person. The Bexar County Clerk’s Real Property/Land Records page explains one way to get a copy of your deed, but procedures may vary by county. 

A grantor is someone who transfers ownership of real estate through a warranty or quitclaim deed. 

grantee is someone who receives title to real estate from a seller (grantor) in a document called a warranty deed or quitclaim deed. 

Nothing. A court clerk may not collect a filing fee for filing a petition to remove a discriminatory restriction in a deed.  

 

If the "chain of title"—the history of who has owned the property—includes a recorded conveyance instrument with a discriminatory provision in it, then two types of people can file a petition to remove the discriminatory provision:

(1) the person who owns the real property, or

(2) another person with the permission of the owner. The law does not specify that this person must be a lawyer, but generally, only lawyers can file documents on behalf of someone else.

Instructions & Forms

Follow these steps to ask the court to remove discriminatory provisions from your deed.

Checklist Steps

If you own real property, look at your deed. The deed should be among the documents that you keep in your personal files. The documents might come from the purchase or sale of a property. Or, the documents may be among documents you have because you have inherited property.

If you don't have these documents, go to your county clerk's office to get a copy of the deed. Some counties have ways to search for documents online. You might also be able to request a certified copy of the deed online.

Or you may have to go to the office in person. The Bexar County Clerk's Real Property/Land Records website explains a way to get a copy of your deed (but methods may vary by county).

Look to see if there is discriminatory language in the documents. The language will simply look discriminatory. For example, it might say that the property's use, sale, or lease may be restricted just because of the buyer's or tenant's race, color, religion, or national origin.

You will need a certified copy of the deed. This is because the court needs to know where it is on file in the public records, and that the document you want corrected is authentic.

Write down where the language is found in the deed: for example, what page and what paragraph number it is on. Include this information on the Petition.

Fill out the Petition for Judicial Review of Conveyance Instrument Alleged to Contain a Discriminatory Provision.

A legal property description should always be obtained from an existing deed, not just the tax records on the county appraisal district's website. 

On Page 2 of the Petition, before the “Prayer” section (a “prayer” is what you are asking the court to do), there is a space where you must fill in where in the deed the discriminatory provision can be found—for example, the page number and paragraph number.

Before you file the Petition, attach a copy of the deed or conveyance instrument that contains the discriminatory provision to the motion. Write “Exhibit A” on the deed or conveyance instrument.

When you sign the Petition’s “Acknowledgement” section, you are signing it under penalty of perjury. It must be 100% true and correct.

Fill in the Order to Remove the Discriminatory Provision with as much information as you have. At this stage in the process, you probably do not have the case number yet. But you will already have other information, such as the county; the place in the county clerk's office where the deed is filed; and the section of the deed where the discriminatory language is found.

There is no filing fee for this petition. See Texas Property Code 5.0261.

File (turn in) the completed, signed petition and order at the clerk’s office in the county where the property is located.

You may also be able to file the petition electronically, although you will need an electronic copy of your deed. Learn about e-filing here. Unless a more on-point option becomes available, your case category will likely be “Civil – Real Property” and the case type code will likely be “other property.”

  • To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.
  • To file your forms in person, take your motion and additional starting forms (and copies) to the clerk’s office in the county where the property is. 

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in your motion and other starting forms (and copies).
  • There is no filing fee for a Petition to Remove Discriminatory Covenant.
  • Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order that you need to follow or attach to any of your documents.
  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures related to real property lawsuits.
  • The clerk will write your “Cause Number” and “Court Number” at the top of the first page of your Petition. Write these numbers at the top of any document you file in this case, such as the Order.
  • The clerk will “file stamp” your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies.

You do not have to appear in court. The judge reviews the petition and deed in their chambers (office). The judge will make a ruling based on what you filed.

The petition is considered automatically granted if 15 days pass and the court does not sign the order.

You should follow up with the court and clerk’s office to confirm, however. If the court has not signed the order in a timely manner, contact a lawyer for advice. Use TexasLawHelp’s Legal Help Directory to help you find a lawyer in your area.

After the judge signs the order, court staff transfer it to the county clerk for recording and indexing not later than the 10th day after the date the judge either signs it or after it is automatically admitted.

If the finding is not entered into the index in a timely manner, contact a lawyer for advice. Use TexasLawHelp’s Legal Help Directory to help you find a lawyer in your area.

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