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  • This is Interesting

    Posted by James R. Rummel on February 6th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Megan’s Law set up a sex offender database, as well as authorizing public notification when an offender moved into a neighborhood.

    According to this news report, a real estate developer filed suit against a former sex offender for ruining sales at a subdivision. The developer also filed suit against the real estate company that bought the house for the criminal.

    Can’t say that I’m particularly sympathetic to the two principals. The sex offender preyed upon the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. The developer squandered any good feeling I had by trying to drag this into court. Looks to me like he’s trying to bankrupt the ex-con through legal bills so he would be forced to sell.

    The cops and the real estate company which bought the house, however, were just doing their jobs. I notice that the suit doesn’t name the police, probably because there’s no chance that it would win. A company that’s hired to find houses for people might just have some money in the bank. Looks like the developer is hoping for a sympathetic jury so they can get some damages awarded.

    So who’s to blame here? The criminal? Well, sure, he’s responsible ’cause he’s the guy who committed the crime. But is he responsible for bringing down property values after the police, obeying federal law, plaster fliers all over the neighborhood? Probably not.

    In many states it’s against the law to discriminate against someone due to race, creed or sexual orientation. Would it be considered discrimination if you refused to sell a house to a sex offender, knowing that the value of your property would plummet?

    I’d say no, but I’ve never worked that side of the bench. (In fact I never was even called to testify on this side.)

     

    5 Responses to “This is Interesting”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Not sure what’s going on here. Did Collins and his wife move into the development intending to extort money from the developer?

    2. Fûz Says:

      This is another symptom, or consequence, of the distributed property interest inherent to real estate developments and brought to full fruit in covenants and homeowners’ associations.

      A real-estate developer takes a chance in building homes in any area, whether he’ll get to sell them or not, and for how much. “Affecting my property values,” whether because of a homeowner’s choice of paint color and landscaping, or because a homeowner is/was/will be a registered sex offender, should not be a cause for tort.

      Does that distributed property interest work the other way—if I invest $10k in my landscaping, and improve my neighbors’ property values indirectly with my own, can I bill them?

    3. Sandy P Says:

      OK, what happens if you move in first, then neighbor a few years later then he comes to live w/his mother – who lives next door to me????

    4. James R. Rummel Says:

      Did Collins and his wife move into the development intending to extort money from the developer?

      No, I think that they simply moved into a new house. But it looks like the developer is filing questionable lawsuits in an effort to force them to sell the house in order to pay for legal fees.

      OK, what happens if you move in first, then neighbor a few years later then he comes to live w/his mother – who lives next door to me????

      There’s not a whole lot you can do. Sell your house at a loss and move yourself is about it.

      James

    5. Steve Says:

      James,
      “So who’s to blame here? The criminal?”

      The Law is to blame. This practice is a penal cop-out . For the criminal who has served a full sentence, it is an extension of his/her sentence to life without parole. For his/her chosen community, it is an projection of the actual prison into its neighborhoods.

      So while I was amused, I was not surprised, to read your post on this developer’s lawsuit. And since the registered sex-offender is our modern society’s new “Witch,” we should expect more of this nonsense. If the crops fail, or the development doesn’t sell, we all know who to hang, burn, drown or sue, don’t we?

      -Steve