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HOW TO COMPLY WITH THE SEX OFFENDER DISCLOSURE LAW

Copyright  2000-2011  Landlord.com

The California Legislature has mandated a new notice, to be included in 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 not great.

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 service."

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 offenders."

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.

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