Discriminating covenants—those covenants that restrict the sale, ownership, occupation or use of land on account of sex, race, creed, colour, nationality, ancestry or place of origin of a person—were placed on various properties around BC during the 1900s. As late as the 1950s, these restrictive provisions that reflect a different cultural reality were still active and being enacted.
In 1978, legislative changes (Section 222 of the Land Title Act) rendered any registered covenant that directly or indirectly has a discriminating effect, whenever registered and in whatever form created, void and unenforceable. The Land Title Office responded by completing a significant review of our digital records to identify affected titles and the Director of Land Titles issued Practice Note 01-15 to outline the impacts of this change to LTSA’s practices.
More recently, LTSA initiated a multi-year project to improve record accessibility by digitizing paper and microfiche records. As part of the initiative, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and machine learning is used to help identify discriminating language in digitized documents.
However, this does not mean that discriminating covenants have disappeared from titles. Under the Torrens system in BC, the Registrar must maintain a complete and unabridged record of dealings with land since the title’s origin and hence is not authorized to alter land title documents. The Registrar is only authorized to ‘strike through’ the offending covenant on title upon request from an owner without a fee, or on the Registrar’s own initiative.
The LTSA receives strike-through requests from time to time and the effort to identify documents with discriminating clauses is ongoing. With over two million active titles in BC, millions of documents in printed form (such as microfilm and survey plans), and millions of transactions a year, the LTSA relies on the assistance of homeowners, local governments, and property professionals to identify any remaining land title records that are affected.
Requests to strike through a covenant on title can be submitted to the Registrar:
- By email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- In writing, by mail, addressed to:
Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia
Anvil Centre Office Tower
Suite 500 – 11 Eighth Street
New Westminster, BC
Please include the legal description and/or parcel identification number (PID) of the lands affected by the discriminating covenant, and the registration number of the covenant.
The LTSA administers the land title system according to statute. In British Columbia, the Land Title Act is the responsibility of the Ministry of Forests.