What is your policy on sharing sex offender information with clients? According to real estate selling tips from HUD, attorneys, and the National Association of Realtors, buyer’s agents can (and should) legally share information on sex offenders with clients. But how much of this burden falls on you, and how much should you share?
The devil’s in the details
According to NAR and attorney real estate selling tips, its best to provide notice to buyers in the following ways:
- Sharing actual knowledge you have on area sex offenders.
- Letting clients know where sex offender information can be found, such as a written notice on the availability of sex offender information in your state, and Megan’s Law.
- Revealing any pertinent information discovered in the sex offender registry, being certain to cite the registry as the source.
Is the onus on you?
No. The burden is still on the buyer – as long as you’ve shared what you happen to know. You are never obligated to proactively research this information for clients.
What if you’re the listing agent?
Thus far, your responsibility to share this information as a listing agent has not been called into question.
Don’t skirt the issue – know the facts to protect yourself and your client:
- In most states, you are legally permitted, but not necessarily obligated, to share sex offender information with buyers.
- In Montana you are required to share knowledge of sex offenders.
- HUD explicitly states sex offenders are NOT protected under the federal Fair Housing Act.
- Worried about inaccuracy/defamation? If you cite the sex offender registry as the source, you’re protected. (It’s the registry’s issue – not yours.)
A matter of good business
Even if there’s no liability for failure to disclose, it’s still in the best interest of your reputation to do so,