My Client Just Revealed That He's A Registered Sex Offender. Now What?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

Imagine you're a Realtor. You've been working with a man who wants to lease a home and you've exchanged emails, spoken and even looking at houses together. Right before you're ready to help him pull the trigger on a specific home he reveals he's a registered sex offender


Now what?


Do you verbally let the other Realtor know that you're working with a registered sex offender?

Do you say nothing and hope the Listing agent & homeowner don't run a criminal report?

Do you add verbiage in special provisions that read.. "My Client Is A Child Molester, But He's Super Nice!

Would a Realtor be violating the Realtor Code of Ethics by volunteering this information?


Questions, questions and more questions. 

Are sex offenders a protected class? 

Can a homeowner turn down a tenant simply because the perspective tenant is a registered sex offender?

I spoke to a real estate attorney and was given an opinion. I'll share that in the comment section below after I read some of yours! 




Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)




The information contained in this blog is believed to be reliable and while every effort is made to assure that the information is as accurate as possible, the author of this blog, and its comments disclaim any implied warranty or representation about it's accuracy, completeness or appropriateness for any particular purpose. All information is copywritten and the property of Greg Nino.  






Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS, 01/09/2013 06:12 AM
ActiveRain Community
Texas Harris County
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registered sex offenders leasing
do i have to lease to a registered sex offender

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Jo Olson
HOMEFRONT Realty - Kettle Falls, WA
HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt - Stevens County

I am with Emmy on this one.  Need more information.  I have been doing some google searches and found this interesting from a legal site....

Can a Landlord Deny the Application of a Convicted Sex Offender or Evict a Current Resident Who is Discovered to Be a Convicted Sex Offender?

The law is less clear on this topic.  On one hand, the law prohibits sex offender registry information from being used for the purpose of denying housing.  A landlord who does use the registry for that purpose can be sued for damages and possibly fined.  However, a landlord also has a duty to protect residents from known risks, or risks that the landlord should have been able to recognize. 

If a landlord decides that sex offenders constitute a known risk, he or she may consider denying applicants who are current sex offenders or evicting such residents.  If a person is found to be a current health or safety risk to others that person will not be protected by fair housing discrimination laws


I love these kinds of converstations.  I wish there were classes that were this specific that we could take. 

Jan 09, 2013 05:50 AM #9
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Oh geez . . . you DO have the best stories.  I don't think it's your duty to disclose, but the registered sex offender needs to, no?!?  If he didn't tell you, you wouldn't have known.  Since he did, and you know, then I'd say . . . like Jane said.

Jan 09, 2013 06:07 AM #10
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Interesting topic Greg. I reblogged this and told the story of one of my Sellers, who turned out to be a registered sex offender... 

Jan 09, 2013 06:31 AM #11
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Man, this is a tough one. My first though was that I have 3 daughters and he can go jump off a bridge. But the more I think about it, he is human (kinda) and as long as everyone follows the rules, he deserves a place to live, right?

Jan 09, 2013 08:47 AM #12
Christine McDaniel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Porter Co. - Crown Point, IN
Broker Associate

Greg, what a shocking situation to be put in.  I think I would refer them to someone with more knowledge on handling the situation.  Most likely our local real estate commissioner.  I would not know where to begin with looking into the areas that someone that is a registered offender can live, so many schools around. 

Jan 09, 2013 08:52 AM #13
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

OY.. I do tell buyers and renters that they can go check out the registry.. but like a local issue. we have a sex offender that moved into a home nearby.. not the owner or even a relative.. now what?? the neighbor was told that there was nothing that they could do to warn anyone by passing out fliers etc .. This is what the police told them. He was in compliance and that was all that could be done.

hmmm but if he told you directly... now what??

Jan 09, 2013 09:10 AM #14
Christine Bohn
RE/MAX Professionals - Gainesville, FL
The Bohn Team, Gainesville FL

Curious to see all the responses here.

Jan 09, 2013 09:36 AM #15
Linda K. Mayer
License # 01767321 - La Verne, CA

Seriously, in CA there are so many laws - so far away fro schools, etc.  The home also has to be approved by the parole board and/or the registry.  This takes like a month, so it also can lengthen the escrow by 2 times or more... be very careful to have your dogs in a row.

Jan 09, 2013 10:28 AM #16
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

I would want to know all the messy details since some of them aren't really sex offenders at all but just tossed in that pool with the rest of them.  Depending on the degree of offensiveness, I would then decide whether or not to work with him.  I have fired buyers for far less.... and they were free to walk the streets.

Jan 09, 2013 11:20 AM #17
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

Wow...very good discussion.  I think that I would stay away from this one to be sure..very interesting and informative comments.  Can't wait to see what the attorney said.  

Jan 09, 2013 11:51 AM #18
Sussie Sutton
UTR Texas Realtors - Pearland, TX
UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers.

If this is a lease the listing agent will have to run a criminal back ground check that will reveal this anyway. So fess up! I also agree with Emmary you have to look at the level of the actual sexual offense.

I have a friend who leased one of her 12 apartments to a sex offender. He lived there for about three years before she had to throw him out. He didn't hurt any children but he was mean and did mean things to the neighbors.

He was also dealing drugs from his apartment and he was being watched by the PD. In the end he lucked out because he got thrown out before he was arrested again.

Jan 09, 2013 11:59 AM #19
Samantha Smith
214.422.0729 - Rowlett, TX
Sam I Am Houses, d+b Real Estate, Lake Ray Hubbard

Holy WoWziers! I'm so curious as to what the answers are!!!

Jan 09, 2013 01:12 PM #20
Jordon Wheeler
The Jordon Wheeler Group - Fairburn, GA
J W Group Real Estate Sales and Service

Hey Greg,

I too think this is a grey area.  Some sex offenders do have permission to live near a school for example.  Interested to see your answer.  Another great post!

Jan 09, 2013 03:55 PM #21
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co. - Frisco, TX
Real Estate Agents

I'm really torn on this one Greg. I dont know if I should dig into it deeper and further. My question is:

- Can an office policy states that we do not work with Registered Sex Offenders? People with criminal background?

One part of me may want to dig deeper into the subject. I'm all about mercy. What if this was a young who has record, but he was 19 and slept with his 17 year old girlfriend. The gf's dad found out about it, use that against him? He's now 30, married to the gf with 2 kids? Then, what do we do there?

I'd be hanging out here to see your responses. I dont think we could treat all of them the same. But it's hard to say, Okay to some stories and Not Okay to some. Hard place to be in.

Jan 09, 2013 08:03 PM #22
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

Tough one to deal with; mixed emotions and all but there really are varying reasons for the offense. Seems like you can't discriminate but you do have to disclose. I'll be looking for your follow-up.

Jan 10, 2013 04:21 AM #23
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

I'm dying to hear what the attorney said.  I am not sure if I'd be breaking any laws by telling anyone yet on the other hand, I think I might.  Also, do they have the right to privacy?  Tough one.  Anxiously awaiting your response.

Jan 11, 2013 03:59 AM #24
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

Chris & Dick, our state rep attorneys said a Realtor is not obligated to disclose if their client is a registered sex offender!

Jan 11, 2013 04:05 AM #25
Dale Bledsoe
Crown Key Realty - Tracy, CA
Realtor in Tracy, California

Here in California I would have called the California Association of Realtors legal hot line and gotten an opinion from and expert. Very interesting question. Glad you posted it.

Jan 14, 2013 05:19 AM #26
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Wow Greg, this is a good one.  I haven't run into the situation and hope I don't, but I don't believe you would need to disclose this.

Jan 27, 2013 12:43 PM #27
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

A sex offender is not to be confused with a child molester. Not every sex offender is a child molester but every child molester is a sex offender. 

Apr 25, 2016 05:44 PM #28
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