Re: ‘Disclosure laws irk Rookie Realtor‘ (Aug. 11)

Dear Rookie:

Yes, it is the duty of an agent to disclose any information about the neighborhood that may have impact upon the purchaser’s decisions. I would disclose to my customers all the places of worship that I’m aware of, and then let them decide which place of worship, or whether living next to a half-way house or a registered sex offender, is to his/her liking. I wouldn’t interject my thoughts, but, as i would disclose whatever information that I knew of in regard to schools, libraries, shopping, places of worship, residences of registered sex offenders, etc…it is always up to the client/customer to make the next “move.” If the agent is aware of this information, my recommendation is: disclose, disclose, disclose–or shame, shame, shame.

Diane Benjamin
RE/MAX Preston Road North
Dallas, Texas

Dear Rookie:

The Federal law specifically forbids disclosing that information, even if asked directly.

The Fair Housing Act identifies certain groups–called protected classes–who deserve special protection against housing discrimination.

Discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin are specifically prohibited. Housing discrimination is illegal if the denial of housing is solely based on the sex of the applicant–male or female–or whether the applicant has children under 18, or is pregnant.

Since 1988, people with physical or mental disabilities have special protections under the Fair Housing Act. Disabilities include hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism and mental illness, AIDS and AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation.

Therefore, just like it is illegal to disclose that a black person lives in the house, it is illegal to disclose that a person with AIDS lives in the house.

The Federal law overrides the state law in this case, I would imagine. If asked by a buyer, an agent should respond that federal law prevents them from responding as to a person’s race, religion, and disability, etc., and that persons with AIDS are specifically named as persons in a protected class. “I cannot answer your question due to the law” is the correct response.

Cindy Cara
Network Real Estate
Grass Valley, Calif.

Dear Rookie:

Threatened with a lawsuit?

I am sure if you talk to any attorney, he/she will tell you that, as an individual, I can threaten and even file a lawsuit against anybody for anything. It’s one of the beautiful things about American freedom. Filing this lawsuit does not guarantee a victory, just an expense for doing business with bigots.

While I am not a lawyer, I think I can say that religion, any religion, is a protected class, and lack of disclosure cannot be grounds to sue a Realtor. In fact, disclosing any facts about the mosque would be grounds for the congregation to sue any Realtor who uses his/her religion to influence a property purchase. There are many protected classes: race, religion, gender and sexual orientation immediately come to mind. However, in our great state of California, I can see a lawsuit from some enterprising individual or personal injury lawyer against a Realtor for failing to disclose his neighbor smokes cigarettes and smokes them outside, thus exposing the buyer to secondhand smoke. Smokers, you see, are not a protected class. My broker is fond of saying that we agents should be worried not about if we are going to be sued but when. Ahhh, I love California.

Bob Reisig
Century 21
Sacramento, Calif.

Dear Rookie:

Obviously you’ve never lived near a large church or a mosque. If you had, you would understand why such information would be important even to a non-racist buyer. Namely, houses of worship, regardless of the religion, generate large crowds of people, i.e. noise and parking issues.

A church with bells or a mosque that has a call to prayer creates an additional issue, i.e. the nuisance of having bells toll or listening to a call to pray multiple times every day.

Your comments seem both arrogant and ignorant. Take a breath, relax and then think if there might be some logical reason for a disclosure requirement before you start ranting.

John Jay

Dear Rookie:

You really don’t want get the opinions of non-Muslims who have lived in Muslim lands. As someone who has lived and experienced that nightmare, I can tell you that such an opinion would be truly prejudicial and unfair in an American context.

Anshumat Parasar


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