Question: I read a recent court decision that said Arizona law did not require a seller of a north Scottsdale home to disclose that a registered sex offender lived next door. The buyer of the home had small children, and obviously became upset and sued the seller. I know that Megan’s Law requires that public authorities disclose registered sex offenders who live in a neighborhood, including distributing fliers in the neighborhood. Why shouldn’t a seller of a home have to disclose to the buyer that a registered sex offender lives next door?
Answer: Arizona law not only protects sellers but also real-estate agents from disclosure of any sex offender, whether registered or not, located in the vicinity of a home.
Some historical background: After a 9-year-old New Jersey girl named Megan Kafka was raped and murdered by two convicted sex offenders living across the street, public outcry resulted in Megan’s Law, which requires disclosure by the police of convicted sex offenders.
But in Arizona, although sellers and real-estate agents must disclose to the buyer any material and adverse fact relating to the value of the home, such as a leaky roof or a nearby landfill, they have no liability to the buyer for failing to disclose a convicted child rapist living next door.
In the Arizona court decision that you mentioned, however, the court did say that the seller had to answer truthfully when the buyer asked the reason that the seller was moving. The seller had told the buyer the reason was to be closer to friends. If the buyer could prove at trial that this statement was untrue, and that the real reason for the seller moving was to get away from the registered sex offender next door, the buyer would have a claim for damages against the seller.