Giblin, Diegnan, Jimenez, Caputo, Vainieri Huttle Bill to Ban "Megan's Law" Offenders from Real Estate Licenses Clears Assembly Committee

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel released on Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Thomas Giblin, Patrick Diegnan, Angelica Jimenez, Ralph Caputo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to revise real estate licensure law and prohibit Megan's Law offenders from obtaining a real estate license. 

"With this legislation, we protect New Jersey's families," said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic). "By continuing to allow Megan's Law offenders to practice real estate, we unnecessarily expose families and children to felonious individuals. Prohibiting sex offenders from selling homes is the right thing to do." 

"This practice of permitting sex offenders to work with families and the possibility of exposure to children cannot go on," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "This legislation puts families first when dealing in real estate transactions handled by Megan's Law offenders."

The bill (A-4463) predicates the disqualification of real estate licenses issued to certain individuals based upon the conviction of any sex offense that would qualify the person for registration under "Megan's Law," or an equivalent statute of another state or jurisdiction. Under the bill, New Jersey Real Estate Commission will be permitted to place licensees on probation, suspend or revoke any real estate license, or impose penalties on a real estate licensee, for failure to notify the commission of the licensee having been convicted of any sex offense that would qualify the person for registration under "Megan's Law," or an equivalent statute of another state or jurisdiction, regardless of the date of the conviction. 

"We encourage families who are looking to buy a house via a real estate agent to know who they are working with," said Jimenez (D-Bergen, Hudson). "This legislation underscores the importance of protecting families and children from sex offenders wherever they may be."

"Requiring professional disclosure by Megan's law offenders who are real estate agents would not be enough," said Caputo (D-Essex). "Our legislation places a much-needed barrier in between any possible interaction of a family and real estate agent who is a registered sex offender under Megan's Law."

"Sex offenders registered under Megan's Law have no business showing or selling homes to families, especially if there are children involved," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This legislation safeguards families who are in the market for a new home and using the professional services of a real estate agent." 

The bill further stipulates that the commission will not disqualify a person from licensure on the basis of a conviction for any sex offense that would qualify the person for registration under "Megan's Law," or an equivalent statute of another state or jurisdiction, if the person has affirmatively demonstrated to the commission clear and convincing evidence of the person's rehabilitation. If the commission determines that the person has affirmatively demonstrated rehabilitation, the commission at its discretion may condition licensure or renewal upon compliance with any conditions the commission deems appropriate for the enhancement of public safety. 

Under current law, the New Jersey Real Estate Commission is required to approve continuing education courses, course providers, and instructors recommended to the commission by a Volunteer Advisory Committee. The bill provides that a real estate organization whose membership consists of over 50 percent of real estate brokers, broker-salespersons and salespersons required to complete continuing education requirements will not be required to submit continuing education courses and instructors to be offered by that organization for approval to the Volunteer Advisory committee and will instead have their continuing education courses and instructors be deemed automatically approved by the commission. 

In addition, the bill revises current law so that continuing educations courses would be prohibited from being delivered through a correspondence course. The bill also establishes a new core continuing education category for real estate licenses safety and codifies in the bill existing New Jersey Real Estate Commission regulations mandating that two hours of continuing education courses be taken in the topic of ethics. 

The bill was released by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee.