housing covenants

Covenants are legal conditions tied to the ownership or use of a property; that is, the covenant "runs with the land" from owner to owner. For example, covenants are used to impose height restrictions on construction and shrubbery or to set the terms of housing associations. Historically, they were used in the United States to restrict the sale or lease of land to people of certain races--e.g., to exclude nonwhites from parts of a city. It was common for houses in a some neighborhoods to have a racial covenant attached to deeds, prohibiting owners from selling the property to nonwhite buyers. The practice had the effect of segregating neighborhoods by race and making nonwhite neighborhoods victims of predatory lenders, underfunded schools and community services, and urban renewal. Housing covenants are now illegal, but their legacy persists.