Landlords not required to reveal sex offenders on property - CBS 5 - KPHO

Landlords not required to reveal sex offenders on property

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Christine Webb and her young family moved to Mesa a few months ago.

"When we came to live here we specifically asked about the neighbors. The property management company had told us that there were no criminals here," said Webb.

Turns out, that wasn't the case. She found out there were two sex offenders living within yards of her front door.

That disturbing news was enough to send Webb's family packing up and moving out. 

"I feel betrayed. I feel the management company should have just told us," said Webb.

CBS 5 News wanted to know why Webb wasn't told the truth about her neighbors.

Our investigation found the property management company didn't break the law by not alerting their new tenants about the sex offenders living on the property.

In Arizona, property managers, landlords and leasing agents are under no legal obligation to reveal whether a sex offender is living in the complex or near it.

Detective Diana Williams of the Mesa Police Department says when a convicted sex offender is first released into their jurisdiction, a flyer is mailed to everyone in the surrounding community.

"Sometimes it could be within a half a mile radius, a mile radius, depending on who the offender is, what their background is and what they're being watched for," said Williams.

It's the same procedure for six other police agencies CBS 5 News contacted in Tempe, Peoria, Phoenix, MCSO, Chandler and Glendale.

"We have 45 days to make sure the community that the offender is moving into knows that person is going to be there," explained Williams.

Daniel Thresher was convicted of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor nine years ago.

"It was like, they got that flyer and all a sudden, I'm not welcome," he said.

Thresher recently moved into a different Mesa complex and soon all of his neighbors knew who he was.

"It was just nice to know that I was being notified that there is a sex offender here in the neighborhood and it's not incognito or they're trying to hide it from us," said Barbara Lovato, Thresher's neighbor.

Neighbors in that complex know now, but the concern for Webb is what will happen months or years from now.

In apartment complexes where families with young children come and go often, who is looking out for the new neighbors?

"If that sex offender doesn't move for decades, there is no requirement for them to do a re-notification," said Officer Carrick Cook from the Department of Public Safety.

Should that law be changed?

"If there is a loophole that is endangering public safety, especially the public safety of children, we definitely will be working here to close that loophole," said Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego.

Gallego is a member of the state's Public Safety Committee. CBS 5 News shared Webb's concerns with him, and he promised to look into what information landlords should divulge as well as possible sex offender re-notification.

"We're always looking for ways to increase safety of our kids," said Gallego.

In the meantime, Webb and her family moved back to Wisconsin.

"We just needed to know so that we could take the precautions to make sure our child is safe," said Webb.

Ultimately it's up to the individual to know who lives in their neighborhood.

DPS keeps a registry of all sex offenders in the state. Click here for the link.

In addition, many Valley cities offer the Offender Watch program, where you can register your email address and if a registered sex offender moves into your area, you'll immediately get the message.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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