Modify or Remove Restrictive Covenants

In the first half of the 20th Century, covenants were recorded on some properties in Washington which included restrictions on who could legally purchase or occupy the property. These provisions sometimes singled out people from specific races, national origins, or ethnic backgrounds, and limited ownership or use to one particular race or members of certain religions.

Supreme Court rulings and state and federal law make these restrictions illegal to enforce. 

Property owners have three choices if their property has an unlawful, restrictive covenant associated with it. As of Jan. 1, 2022, real estate transactions will require disclosure of restrictive covenants.

  1. File a Restrictive Covenant Modification. Filing this document through Snohomish County Recording costs nothing. It effectively removes reference to the offending document from your chain of title.
  2. Have the covenant removed. Washington law allows for the illegal language to be struck by bringing an action in Superior Court. Filing through Superior Court costs $20. Property owners will then need to provide the new records to Snohomish County Recording for filing at no charge. 
  3. Do nothing to modify or remove the covenant. 
  1. Modify a Restrictive Covenant
  2. Remove a Restrictive Covenant

In 2018, Washington State provided a way for property owners to address discriminatory, restrictive covenants found in documents affecting the title of their properties. If your property has a restrictive covenant recorded in the past, you can record a modification document with the county where your property is located.

If you have verified that a recorded document in the chain of title to your property contains a racially restrictive covenant and you want to record a modification document, here are the steps to follow.

1. Gather necessary information

Obtain the following information about your property from your deed or your title insurance policy:

  1. Recording number of the original document containing the racially restrictive covenant that is void under state law. It is not necessary to obtain the recording number for any later document repeating the terms of the original document or referencing its recording number.
  2. Recording date of the original document containing the racially restrictive covenant.
  3. The names of all current owners of the property (you and your co-owners, if any).
  4. Legal description (both full and abbreviated) of your property.
  5. Tax parcel number for your property.

2. Complete the form

Fill out the Restrictive Covenant Modification with the information above, but do not sign it yet.

Restrictive Covenant Modification - Individual (PDF)

Restrictive Covenant Modification - Nonindividual (PDF)

3. Sign and notarize form

Take the document and your government-issued photo identification (for example, a driver's license or passport) to a licensed notary public and sign in the presence of the notary. There may be a charge to have the document notarized.

4. Submit to Snohomish County Recording

There is no charge to record the document.

Text adapted from King County and Spokane County Auditors.