Do home buyers have to be told of a sex offender in the area?

On Behalf of | Nov 23, 2021 | Residential Real Estate

You just moved into the home of your dreams. Then you learn when talking with one of your new neighbors that there’s a registered sex offender living down the block – or maybe in your building.

You’d never thought to ask about something like that. Shouldn’t the seller’s agent have been required to tell you? What about your own agent?

What are the requirements for New York real estate agents?

There’s a lot of confusion around this, and some real estate agents aren’t even sure what they’re allowed to say. Under New York law, they aren’t required to tell potential buyers. However, they aren’t prohibited from telling them, as they are in some states.

If someone asks, they are required to be honest about what they know. They certainly may not know from one week to the next. That’s why it’s best for them to refer people who are concerned to the New York Sex Offender Registry. Your own agent can and should look that information up for you, but anyone has access to it.

It’s important to remember that everyone who’s been convicted of a crime involving sex isn’t an ongoing risk. Only those considered to be at high or medium risk of reoffending are included on the registry.

If an agent (yours or the seller’s) knows there’s someone on the registry living very nearby and says there isn’t, that could potentially be cause for litigation – particularly if they harm you or someone in your family. However, it could be difficult to prove that they knowingly provided false information. If that’s the situation you’re in, it’s best to seek legal guidance.