STOCKTON, Calif. - A California couple says they found a racist requirement in their paperwork while they were trying to buy a new home.
After months of searching for the perfect house, prospective homeowner Esai Manzo thought he found it in Stockton’s Colonial Heights neighborhood.
"This is a beautiful house and we love it," Manzo told KTXL.
But their dream home quickly turned into a nightmare as he and his wife went through the paperwork.
“Crazy to think now in 2019 to read over a document and we have to agree to these terms,” Manzo said.
Hidden in a document outlining covenants, conditions and restrictions was a racist requirement that said no one can purchase or live in the home unless they are “wholly of the white Caucasian race.”
“I identify as a Hispanic descent. I’m wondering, did everyone sign this paperwork?" Manzo said. "Did everyone read it? Did they agree and find it's no issue to them? If so, I would feel kind of disturbed to live there."
The restrictions date back to 1947 and McGeorge School of Law Professor John Sprankling explained these kinds of rules were fairly common in those days.
“The supreme court in 1948 declared that racially restrictive covenants were invalid as a matter of public policy and since then they’ve all been invalid,” Sprankling explained.
So if the covenants can’t be enforced, why still include it in the document?
“There’s no one around to ask them to sign off on it,” Sprankling said.
If the property fell under a homeowners association, the organization would be required to get the rules wiped from the documents. But since there is no homeowners association governing the property, Sprankling said it’s up to the owner to get it changed.
“They could pretty easily file a statement with the county recorder, which would solve this problem entirely,” Sprankling said.
Manzo, though, hasn’t decided whether he’s willing to sign a document outlining such racist policies even if he could have it changed later. To him, it’s a matter of morals.
“It’s just sad to know that we have to live through these terms and discriminations,” Manzo said.