States are sorting out the question of who is responsible for disclosing to potential home buyers the presence of sex predators in a neighborhood, reports USA Today. Most states do not require disclosure, and some have gone so far as to pass laws freeing them of that responsibility. A 2006 lawsuit by a Melbourne, Fl., couple who say they should have been told of a neighboring offender before they bought a house in a quiet subdivision could set a precedent in Florida, where an absence of statutes and case law leaves the 2005 sale up to the court.
“If the licensee knows there is a sex offender living in that area, it should be disclosed in writing,” said Mary Utley of the Arizona Department of Real Estate. In Mississippi, sellers must disclose that information, but only if buyers ask. California law requires that all sales contracts include forms alerting buyers to the state sex-offender website. The Louisiana legislature has mandated standardized purchasing agreement that includes language pointing buyers to the state’s sex-offender website. Oregon and Nevada absolve sellers and agents of liability for not revealing sex offenders. The Florida Association of Realtors began asking in the past year that sales contracts include forms notifying buyers of a state sex-offender Web site where they can look up information on offenders’ locations.