STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL/CNN) - A couple is searching for answers after they say they found a racist requirement in their paperwork while they were trying to buy a new home.
After months of looking for the perfect house, Esai Manzo thought he found it in Stockton, California’s Colonial Heights neighborhood.
"It's a beautiful house. We love it,” Manzo said.
The dream home quickly turned into a nightmare as he and his wife went through the paperwork.
"Crazy to think that in 2019 we’re given a document and we have to agree to these terms,” Manzo said.
A racist requirement is hiding in the conditions and restrictions of a document outlining covenants of the neighborhood. The requirement says no one can purchase or live in the home unless they are “wholly of the white caucasion race.”
"I identify as Hispanic descent. I’m wondering, ‘Did everyone sign this paperwork? Did everyone read it? Did they agree and see this as no issue to them?’ If so I would feel kind of disturbed to live there,” Manzo said.
The restrictions date back to 1947 and John Sprankling, a McGeorge School of Law professor, 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 said.
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.
Since there is no homeowners association governing this property, Sprankling says 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 change it 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.