Recently in a an Ohio courtroom a buyer and a brokerage went head to head to decide if the brokerage had a duty to disclose that the neighbor next to the property they were purchasing was a registered sex offender.
After the buyer continuously contacted the brokerage only to be issued a “no contact” order, the Ohio court finally ruled in favor of the brokerage. The court looked at past cases to determine this. They ruled that a convicted criminal living next door was not a material defect and the brokerage was not required to disclose this fact even if it new about it in advance. In this case, it was not confirmed that the brokerage even knew about the neighbor.
As a Realtor, you know that you can never say “this is a safe neighborhood” or even elude to the fact. Always, always, always point your buyers to websites that help the buyer make his or her own determination any time safety is asked.
You may have read an earlier article we had posted in regards to rentals. In this case, you absolutely have a duty as a landlord to do the search and have the affidavit signed for your rental property ESPECIALLY here in downtown West Palm Beach. This is due to our boundaries in the city being within the school zone radius where no sexual predator is allowed to reside. In these cases.. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!
In cases like the Ohio case, I would say always protect yourself when asked if the neighborhood is high crime or safe. Just send them to the web to carry out their own search and make their own judgement call.
As always, if this is your brokerage battling over disclosure, call Jim Brown, Real Estate Attorney or email at [email protected]