Navigating Megan’s Law
What are your responsibilities as a park owner?
Parts of the law surrounding a park owner’s obligations to their tenants/residents when it comes to the California sex offender database are clear, while other portions remain open to interpretation. We wanted to get to the bottom of things, so we reached out to our Legal Hotline attorneys in search of clarification.
According to Dan Rudderow, of Rudderow Law Group “The law is clear on duties to prospective tenants/residents, but unclear as to duties owed to current tenants. A landlord has the affirmative duty to provide a notice to prospective tenants/residents that includes the sex offender database website. There is specific language that needs to be included in this notice, however, no other specific or identifying information about the sex offender is required. The only obligation is to provide notice “concerning the California's sex offender databases and the types of information contained in them, including the specific location of offenders.” (Civil Code section 2079.10a).
“The law is less clear as to obligations to existing neighbors/tenants/residents, however,” continues Dan. “I interpret the law to impose no additional responsibility on the landlord or park owner to inform each neighbor that a sex offender has moved into the neighborhood. Similarly, a sex offender is not obligated to notify neighbors about his/her sex offender status.”
An example of the required enclosure provided by Rudderow Law Group reads as follows:
MEGAN’S LAW DISCLOSURE:
NOTICE: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and ZIP Code in which he or she resides.
When it comes to a situation where a tenant/resident is approaching you with concerns about a fellow tenant/resident, Attorney John Pentecost of Hart Kienle Pentecost Law Firm made it clear that a park should not discuss a person’s status on the Megan’s Law list with anyone. If the tenant/resident raising concerns feels as though the offender is posing a threat to themself or others in the park, all you as the park owner should do is advise them to contact local law enforcement. John also stated that “A park can take no action against a person who is on the Megan’s Law list based on them being on that list. That would be a misdemeanor and discriminatory.”
One way to avoid being caught off guard is to preform background checks on all potential tenants/residents. A proper background check would inform you of registered offenders before they are approved allowing you to stay ahead of the situation.
If you find yourself facing this problem or have specific questions regarding Megan’s law, you can contact the CalOHA office to be put through to the legal hotline where our attorneys would be happy to advise you through your situation.
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