Recently, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear a case from the 8th Circuit on whether a state may limit where a registered sex offender can live. Read the article. The case is Doe v. Miller, 405 F.3d 700 (8th Cir. 2005), where the appellate court found that a state legislature could constitutionally limit where a sex offender could live.
What makes this significant is the assumption one might make from the high Court's silence: certain housing restrictions are left to the discretion of the state legislature. It does not take much foresight to see this translated into the community association setting (i.e., community association documents with language prohibiting sex offenders from owning or occupying property within a community association).
In fact, one New Jersey court has already adjudicated this issue in favor of restricting sex offender occupancy. See, Mulligan v. Panther Valley Property Owners Assn., 766 A.2d 1186 (N.J. App. Div. 2001) [Although, the court does note that they might have held differently based on different or more complete facts].
The debate is certainly going to heat up as more states, municipalities, and eventually community associations take active steps to limit the occupancy of sex offenders.
Matthew L. Winton
Vaughn & Winton PLLC