HOW TO COMPLY WITH THE SEX OFFENDER DISCLOSURE LAW
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The California Legislature has mandated a new notice, to be included
all new residential rental agreements entered into on or after July 1, 1999.
You are required to include this notice if:
1. The property is intended for residential purposes.
2. The rental agreement is in writing.
3. The rental agreement is entered into (last signature affixed) on or after
July 1, 1999.
It is not clear whether Civil Code Section 2079.10a applies only to new
tenants or new rental agreements with old tenants. In other words, if an old
tenant signs a new rental agreement intended to memorialize a pre-existing oral
agreement, or modify a written one, is the disclosure required? No one knows for
sure, but it is a good idea to include it anyway, as the cost of compliance is
The notice must be in at least eight point type (standard pica is 12 point
and so qualifies), and be verbatim as follows:
"Notice: 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
This notice must be in the
body of the rental agreement, not in an
addendum. Throw out all the old forms. The statute does not contain a mandate
that the tenant initial the notice, but does speak of "delivery" of the notice
to the tenant. The landlord may wish to obtain initials alongside the notice for
this reason, to establish the notice was brought to the tenant's attention.
Some writers have implied, in urging compliance with the statute, that it
confers protection on the landlord. We are unable to discern any such
protection. The statute does read, at subdivision (b):
"Subject to subdivision (c), upon delivery of the notice to the lessee or
the transferee of the real property, the lessor, seller, or broker is not
required to provide information in addition to that contained in the notice
regarding the proximity of registered sex
This is comforting. But subdivision (c), to which the comforting news is
"subject," whatever that means, reads as follows:
"Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) and (b), nothing in this section shall
alter any existing duty of the lessor, seller, or broker under any other
statute or decisional law...."
One might conclude that, having said all this, the Legislature might as well
have said nothing at all.
It is certain, however, that failure to comply will impose a new liability.
For this reason, we suggest that compliance with this new statute not be
postponed, even if July 1, 1999, is not here yet.