Disclosure – Registered Sex Offenders

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By PETER ROSENTHAL, President
V.I.P. Trust Deed Company

This column will affect a good percentage of readers, whether you are a landlord, tenant, homeowner or even a sex offender. On July 1, 1999 a new California civil code becomes effective (Code 2079.10a). This will require a notice to be included in every lease or rental agreement for residential real property and a notice in every contract of sale of real property. The wording of the notice is as follows:

The California Department of Justice, sheriff’s departments, police departments serving jurisdictions of 200,000 or more and many other local law enforcement authorities maintain for public access a data base of the locations of persons required to register pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 290.4 of the Penal Code. The data base is updated on a quarterly basis and a source of information about the presence of these individuals in any neighborhood. The Department of Justice also maintains a Sex Offender Identification Line through which inquiries about individuals may be made. This is a “900” telephone service. Callers must have specific information about individuals they are checking. Information regarding neighborhoods is not available through the “900” telephone service.

The actual code goes on for several paragraphs, including provisions that the notice be in “not less than 8 point type.” It further states that “the information in the notice shall be deemed to be adequate to inform the Lessee or transferee about the existence of a state wide data base of the locations of registered sex offenders and information from the data base regarding these locations.”

Now that I have alarmed you readers who presently own income property or own property that will be sold in the future, please realize this is ONLY an information disclosure.

When I first became aware of this proposed new Civil Code (almost a year ago) I, frankly, thought it was just another unnecessary addition to our already voluminous rental agreements or sale contracts. Once I got over my pique, however, I realized that this will have a tendency to shield sellers and landlords from potential lawsuits that might have been filed by a prospective tenant or purchaser if they later discover that a child molester or some other sex offender lives across the street or around the corner. This statement ASSUMES that the seller or landlord had no KNOWLEDGE of that offender. If so, that is something that would have to be SPECIFICALLY disclosed to either a prospective tenant or purchaser.

There has been much confusion since this Civil Code was passed by the legislature as to the “number of units” involved with respect to rental properties. It was my early belief that this applied to ONLY 1-4 unit properties, but that is not the case. Let me be as clear as I can: If you own or manage a 100 unit apartment building, this notice must be in every lease or rental agreement executed after July 1, 1999. Believe me, I went to the mat on this one as I initially believed otherwise.

If you are an existing tenant or if you have just purchased real estate or even own a house and are NOT planning to sell it in the near future, you might want to take advantage of this service anyway. Who knows what information you may find in the data base relating to that kindly “grandfatherly type” across the street. On the other hand, MAYBE ignorance is bliss.

If any of my column readers would like an actual copy of 2079.10a, please send a self-addressed, STAMPED envelope to the address below with a note marked V.I.P. 2079.10a.

Peter Rosenthal
VIP Trust Deed Company