February 26, 2020

Archaic clause forbids sale a home to Jews

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec - A home near Montreal has been found to contain restrictions refusing sale to Jewish people.

While preparing to sell a home in Lery on the South Shore of Montreal, real estate broker Anne-Marie Ashcroft discovered that a deed to a pristine lakeside home contained a servitude clause dating back to 1918 barring sale to anyone who is of Jewish origin.

"It's terrible," she said. "It's gross and it's not something we can just brush under the rug."

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After consulting with a notary, Ashcroft found it was something that could easily be removed from a new deed of sale or certificate of location.

"In order to have it completely struck, the sellers would have to take the matter to court, so they would have to undertake the expense and the stress of doing something like that, which is obviously ridiculous," she said.

It is the second time in the past months that a home near Montreal has been found to have a clause from decades past barring sale to Jewish people. Among legal experts, it's a practice that has been seen and heard about for years.

In January, a farmer in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu included a clause refusing sale to Jewish people about 60 years ago when he subdivided his land into hundreds of lots.

The servitudes are not legally enforceable, but the one in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu required the Quebec Superior Court to overturn it.

"Any lawyer who practised law in the 1970s would tell you, sure they existed," said B'nai Brith legal counsel Steven Slimovitch. "I think what it demonstrates for us, there is a real anti-semitism. There is a real hatred out there, and some people even have the temerity to put that down on paper."

A spokesperson for Quebec Justice Minister Sonia LeBel sent a statement saying such clauses "should not exist in our society... We strongly encourage owners to have these clauses invalidated in court or waived during the sale."

Ashcroft wants something more to be done.

"Notaries should be obligated to do something when they see something so against Charter rights," she said.

Source: CTV News