by Phoenix attorney Christopher A. Combs, partner with Combs Law Group, P.C.
Question: We have listed our Mesa home for sale. Three days ago, a neighbor down the street was arrested for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter. Everyone in our neighborhood is shocked because this neighbor was a very nice person. This neighbor is now out on bail and living back in his home, although his stepdaughter is obviously no longer living there. My listing broker says that, although I would not have to disclose to potential buyers a registered sex offender in our neighborhood, I do have to disclose felonies committed in the neighborhood even though my neighbor has not even been convicted. Can you tell me what I am required to disclose?
Answer: You probably do not have to disclose your neighbor’s sexual assault on his stepdaughter. Under Arizona law, sellers and brokers are not required to disclose murders, suicides, or any felonies occurring on the property, or sex offenders in the ” vicinity” of the property. A.R.S. Â§ 32-2156. This statute says ” sex offenders” not ” registered, [i.e., convicted], sex offenders”; therefore disclosure to potential buyers of the sexual assault in the ” vicinity” of your home is probably not required. If disclosure is otherwise required, e.g., a murder occurring not on the property but in the home next door, this statute does not protect sellers and brokers from failing to disclose this murder. In other words, if your neighbor murdered his stepdaughter in the ” vicinity” of your home, disclosure would probably be required; however, your neighbor’s sexual assault on his stepdaughter in the ” vicinity” of your home is probably not required.