Ohio Megan’s Law

Revised January 2008

Since July of 1994, when seven year old Megan Kanka of Hamilton, NJ was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived in her neighborhood, states have been adopting laws for community notification of sex offenders. Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law, HB 180, was adopted in 1996 with an effective date of July 1, 1997 for the registration and community notification provisions. Ohio’s Megan’s Law has been amended several times since its enactment.

Megan’s Law requires individuals convicted of a sexually oriented offense to register with the local sheriff’s office. The sheriff will notify the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI). BCI will include this information in the State Registry of Sex Offenders and Child Victim Offenders and also notify the FBI. The offender must notify the sheriff of an address change and must periodically verify their current address. The registration requirement will last from 15 years to life depending upon the offender’s conviction.

An offender is required to provide written notification to the sheriff of the offender’s intent to reside in the county at least twenty days prior to the date the offender actually moves in. Within three days of establishing a residence in the county the offender must again provide written notification to the sheriff.

If the offender is subject to the community notification requirements the sheriff is required to notify local law enforcement, the victim (if requested by the victim) and neighbors of the offender within 5 days of the offender registering a residence or intended residence. The neighbors who will be provided written notification from the sheriff are: (a) all residences within 1,000 feet of the offender’s residence which are not in a “multi-unit building”. (A “multi-unit building” is defined as a building with more than 12 residential units that have entry doors that open directly into the unit from a hallway that is shared with one or more other units), (b) if a multi-unit building is within 1,000 feet of the offender’s residence, a notice will be given to the building or condominium manager and a notice will be posted in each common entryway, (c) If the offender lives in a multi-unit building, notice will also be given to all units that share a common hallway with the offender’s unit.

The sheriff is also required to provide written notice of the offender’s registration within seven days to all of the following:

1. Executive director of the public children services agency
2. Superintendent of the school district
3. Hiring officer of each chartered nonpublic school
4. Director of each preschool
5. Administrator of each child day-care center
6. President of each college or university
7. Certain volunteer organizations and others who have requested notification

The written notice provided by the sheriff will include the offender’s name, the address or addresses of the offender’s residence, school, institution of higher education, or place of employment, the offense for which the offender was convicted, the classification of the offender and the offender’s photograph. Megan’s Law provides that the written notice is a public record and is open to inspection under Ohio’s Public Records Law. Anyone should be able to obtain information from the local sheriff’s office or web site regarding registered offenders in the area. The Ohio Attorney General also maintains a sex offender database on its web site, www.esorn.ag.state.oh.us.

Megan’s Law prohibits an offender of a sexually oriented offense from establishing or occupying a residential premises that is within 1,000 feet of any school, preschool or child daycare center. Ohio’s landlord-tenant laws and eviction provisions permit a landlord to evict a tenant in violation of this provision. The law also permits county prosecutors to evict offenders who violate this provision.

Megan’s Law does not address a property owner’s or real estate licensee’s duty to disclose to a tenant or buyer that a known sex offender lives in the neighborhood. It is impossible to say with certainty how a court would rule on this disclosure issue as some decisions state that information of public record does not have to be disclosed and other decisions indicate that this could be found to be material information that should have been disclosed. Due to this uncertainty, if the property owner has been notified by the sheriff, the cautious approach would be to disclose this information to the buyer or tenant. Of course this issue and the brokerage disclosure policy must be discussed with the property owner and consented to. If the property owner does not consent, the broker must decide whether to comply with the owners request not to disclose or decline to sell/rent the property due to the possible risk involved.

To facilitate the seller’s disclosure of notice received under Megan’s Law and the buyer’s awareness of a sex offender’s requirement to register with the local sheriff, a sex offender provision can be included in the purchase contract. Attached is sample language. Also attached are sample sex offender provisions that can be included in your agency agreements. With the listing agreement provision, the seller is agreeing to disclose notice received under Megan’s Law. With the buyer representation agreement, the buyer is put on notice of the sex offender registration requirement, their ability to obtain information from the sheriff and recommends the buyer obtain this information.

These are sample provisions and are not required by Megan’s Law. However, they provide REALTORS with a means to notify the seller and buyer of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law and to address the disclosure issue. Local Board’s with questions regarding the disclosure obligations of Megan’s Law can contact either Peg Ritenour, Lorie Garland, or their own Local Board Counsel.

PURCHASE CONTRACT

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law requires the local sheriff to provide written notice to neighbors if a sex offender resides or intends to reside in the area. The notice provided by the sheriff is a public record and is open to inspection under Ohio’s Public Records Law. Therefore, you can obtain information from the sheriff’s office regarding the notices they have provided pursuant to Ohio’s sex offender notification law.

The seller certifies that he/she has not received notice pursuant to Ohio’s sex offender notification law, unless noted below:
_________________________________

The Buyer acknowledges that the information disclosed above may no longer be accurate and agrees to inquire with the local sheriff’s office. If current information regarding the status of registered sex offenders in the area is desired, buyer agrees to assume the responsibility to check with the local sheriff’s office. Buyer is relying on their own inquiry with the local sheriff’s office as to registered sex offenders in the area and is not relying on the seller or any real estate agent involved in the transaction.

LISTING AGREEMENT

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Ohio’s Sex Offender and Notification Law requires the local sheriff to provide written notice to neighbors if a sex offender resides or intends to reside in the area. If you have or do receive notice from the sheriff’s office pursuant to this law, you agree to disclose this fact to the Buyer in the Purchase Contract.

BUYER REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law requires the local sheriff to provide written notice to neighbors if a sex offender resides or intends to reside in an area. This notice is to residences within one thousand feet of the offender’s residence. Residences not within one thousand feet of offender’s will not receive notification from the sheriff. The notice provided by the sheriff is a public record and is open to inspection under Ohio’s Public Records Law. Therefore, you can obtain information from the sheriff’s office regarding the notices they have provided pursuant to Ohio’s sex offender notification law. It is recommended that you obtain information from the sheriff’s office regarding registered sex offenders in the area you are considering to live.