SEXUAL PREDATOR AND OFFENDER ORDINANCES
Background of “Megans Law”
Megan's Law was created to provide information to the community as to the presence of sexual predators and offenders in their neighborhood. Through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website and many other websites maintained by municipalities, it is possible for anyone to look up a person to see if they are a registered predator or offender and see the exact address of that person. Megan’s Law was named after 7-year old Megan Kanka, who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a convicted sexual predator; the law was created to have a system in place under which people could be notified of the presence of such a person in their community.
Florida Law does not require a private person such as a manager to inquire as to whether someone is a sexual predator or offender, does not prohibit renting to one, and creates no requirement for the manager to notify the community or immediate neighbors if they do in fact rent to a registered sexual offender or predator. While Florida law imposes restrictions on where a sexual predator or offender can live, there in no duty or obligation on a Florida manager to inquire about the sexual predator or offender status of a person, or prohibit them from renting where he or she would be in violation of Florida law. Megan’s law as it applies to Florida only requires law enforcement to set up some sort of notification system to help a community know of the presence of an offender or predator in their neighborhood. The FDLE website is such a step in this direction. There are other laws that apply to the registered sexual predator or offender which prohibit them from living within a certain number of feet from places like schools, designated public school bus stops, day care centers, parks, beach playgrounds, libraries, churches or other places where children regularly congregate, but until now, this was not the concern of the Florida manager.
Registered Sexual Offenders and Predators
Certain Florida municipalities are creating and have enacted ordinances which are further restricting where registered sexual predators or offender may reside, AND in some cases, imposing criminal penalties on managers if they rent to such a person in violation of the ordinances.
What Does This Means to the Property Manager?
All manager in areas where there is an ordinance in place should immediately check the FDLE sexual predators and offenders website to see if they are indeed renting to a person on the list. If this is the case, it is highly recommend that the owner immediately examine the lease or the tenancy to see how soon a Notice of Non-Renewal can be given, and this Notice of Non-Renewal should be given in accordance with the terms of the lease and Florida law, plus be sent by certified mail, regular mail and by hand delivery or posting on the premises, to cover all bases. Many residents served with a Notice of Non - Renewal deny receiving the notice, and this can complicate or prevent an eviction from occurring successfully if the resident fails to vacate per the notice.
Every property manager needs to be diligent in conducting criminal background checks on all applicants. There are many excellent companies which provide these checks at a very reasonable cost. We recommend using a Florida company, as they may have more up to date access to the court records. Even after you receive the background history, it is imperative that you check the FDLE website and make a written notation when you checked the website, the exact name you checked as provided by you from the applicant, and the steps you took to verify the information. The FDLE website has photographs of the registrants to assist you in verifying who you are dealing with, as many people have similar names. A registered sexual predator or offender will do whatever it takes to get housing, as they probably have been denied on numerous occasions and will often change the spelling of their name or fill out the application illegibly to make your search more difficult. As you can see, the “as the crow flies” distance requirement is extremely broad. Check with your local municipality, sheriff’s department and police station if you are unsure where your property is located in relation to a school, designated public school bus stop, day care center, park, beach playground, library, church or other place where children regularly congregate. If a property manager places a registered sexual offender or predator within this area and the property owner gets in trouble, be sure that you will not be the next to get in trouble. Remember, 2500 feet is almost one half mile, so the chances are very high that your property could fall within the danger zone.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW