Disclosure of a Neighbor Arrested for Sex Offense
Question: In a recent column you said that a seller of a home in Scottsdale did not have to disclose to the buyer that the next door neighbor’s 15-year-old son had been arrested for molesting a 12-year-old girl. Under the standard real estate contract in Arizona a buyer is advised to go online to the public registry for sex offenders to see if there are any sex offenders in the community. Why does the seller have to disclose anything to the buyer if the buyer has been informed in writing of the availability of this public registry for sex offenders?
Answer: You are correct. The public registry of the home addresses of Level One, Level Two, and Level Three convicted sex offenders is available online. There is no public registry, however, for an individual who has only been arrested for a sexual offense. Yet, the police must have had probable cause to arrest this 15-year-old. Therefore, this 15-year-old is probably a “sex offender” for disclosure purposes. Under A.R.S. §32-2156, neither a seller nor a real estate agent has to disclose to a buyer a sex offender, even in this case where this 15-year-old was not convicted and would not be listed on the public registry available online.