State Lawmakers Make Efforts to Change Discriminatory Language in Old Deeds

Sep 25, 2017

(left) Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor and (right) Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) discuss bill allowing homeowners, attorneys or title companies request redaction of discriminatory deed language.
Credit Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

State lawmakers want to make it easier for county recorders to change racist and discriminatory language in old housing documents brought to them by a homeowner, an attorney or a title company. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, deeds to houses can still reflect blemishes in a neighborhood’s history.

Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor supports redacting language excluding people of certain races or religions from owning land. He says it can be found in tens of millions of housing ownership papers. And that’s just in Franklin County.

For example, O’Connor pointed to deeds in Upper Arlington, a central Ohio neighborhood, that would not allow the transfer of ownership to African Americans.

"They had to enact and engage in putting specific language there was intent here in these neighborhoods to in their eyes protect the homes and protect the neighborhood from being purchased by these individuals.”

Some have suggested that the original language should be maintained to remind people of a neighborhood’s history, sordid or not.