Does Your Association Need A Sex Offender Amendment?

In recent weeks, planned community developments, both condominiums and HOA’s, have been in the media with respect to amending community documents to restrict Tier II and Tier III sex offenders from living in a community. It is important to know the categories and registration requirements for sex offenders, as well as, where to find additional information concerning the location of sex offenders.

Ohio law requires sex offenders to register with the Sheriff in the county in which they reside. Sex offenders are placed into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. This tiered system was developed with The Adam Walsh Act which is federal legislation attempting to establish a uniform system to categorize sex offenders.

Tier I sex offenders (“sexually oriented offenders”) are those individuals convicted of committing a sexually oriented crime such as having sexual contact with someone knowing the contact is offensive or having sexual contact with someone substantially impaired. Tier I offenders are required to register with the county Sheriff annually for 15 years and must register any change in address due to a change in residence, place of employment or enrollment in an educational institution.

Tier II sex offenders (“habitual sex offenders”) are those individuals convicted of committing a sexually oriented offense more than one time. Tier II offenders commit crimes such as photographing sexual conduct of a minor and/or selling materials showing sexual conduct of a minor. Tier II offenders are required to register with the county Sheriff every 6 months for 25 years and must register any change in address due to a change in residence, place of employment or enrollment in an educational institution.

Tier III sex offenders (“sexual predators”) are those individuals convicted of or pleading guilty to committing a sexually oriented offense with a high likelihood of committing additional sexually oriented offenses in the future. Tier III offenders are required to register with the county Sheriff every 90 days for life and must register any change in address due to a change in residence, place of employment or enrollment in an educational institution.

County Sheriff ‘s are not required to notify community residents when a Tier I or Tier II sex offender moves into the area. Only Tier III offenders require the Sheriff to notify residents upon a change in address. The Sheriff will provide notice to neighborhoods within 1,000 feet of the sex offender’s residence. In addition, the Sheriff will provide notice to schools, registered day-care providers, and law enforcement agencies within the county.

Each individual owner should take steps to keep informed about the location of sex offenders living in the area. This information can be provided by your local Sheriff’s office and also “Ohio Esorn” which is an electronic database for all 88 counties in Ohio. The Ohio Esorn website allows owners to sign up so that automated messages are sent to the owner when a sex offender moves into a nearby location. The Ohio Esorn website is: www.esorn.ag.state.ohio.us

What does this mean for you and your planned community? Ohio law, both the condominium statute and the new HOA statute allow the declaration and bylaws to be amended with 75% of the owners’ approval, unless otherwise stated in the declaration. Many communities have chosen to amend the declaration which would prohibit Tier II and Tier III sex offenders from living in the community. These amendments are recorded with the county in which the community is located and become a part of the public record.

If the board of a condominium or HOA becomes aware of a sexual predator (Tier III) living in the community, does the board have a duty to inform the owners? The county Sheriff has a duty to inform the owners within the community pursuant to Ohio law regarding the location of the Tier III sex offender, not the board of directors. However, the board should take the necessary steps to create a policy regarding sex offenders in the community. The board can choose to create a policy whereby if the board receives notice from the Sheriff of a Tier III sex offender, or knows that residents within the community have received such notice, the board could forward that information to residents within the community.

Likewise, the board has no duty to inform the owners within the community of Tier I or Tier II sex offenders residing in the community. The board can provide website information for the county Sheriff or Ohio Esorn, or other valid websites where each owner can research information regarding sex offenders in the community.

If you have questions regarding sex offender amendments please contact us.

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