Daniel's Law and its Possible Impact for NJ Real Estate Transfer (Blog)

The objectives of Daniel’s Law are to be lauded, but the law as written will have unintended consequences for real estate transactions. Its primary goal can be achieved with a SMART amendment.
  • Shield At-Risk Parties
  • Mandate Opt-In
  • Access for Professionals
  • Require Credentials
  • Transaction Security

  • Daniel's Law” was passed by the New Jersey legislature and signed into law by Governor Murphy late in 2020. As stated in the NJ law Journal, Daniel's Law prohibits the disclosure on the internet of the home addresses of current or retired federal, state and municipal judicial officers, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, their spouses and their children[1].The legislation was passed and its impact was designed to be immediate. The catalyst was the targeting of a judge at her home which led to the horrific killing of her son, and injury to her husband. In its wake, understandably, our legislature and the Governor wanted to do something –to help prevent similar acts of retaliation in the future.

    Overwhelmingly, the spirit of the legislation was applauded and should be, especially given what led to its enactment. Its overall goal of safeguarding such information of the “protected class” is completely understandable. However, the intricacies involved in how to actually manage this is a challenge for the government entities who are the custodians of such data. Some areas that need increased focus include identifying the "protected class" and ensuring that those who have a legitimate business need, such as the transfer or real property, can still gain access to necessary records.
    In safeguarding the information for the “protected class”, there would be a need to limit access to the public records of these individuals and their families, which includes but is not limited to deeds, mortgages, and other associated land record instruments used to facilitate the transfer of real property. The current version also holds the government custodian of the records responsible for ensuring they do not distribute or post certain information connected to the “protected class” and their families. Identifying who the “protected class” is without the benefit of that group self-identifying through an opt-in, will be incredibly challenging for these government record custodians. More guidance regarding specifically who is in the “protected class” and how to best shield the home addresses is needed.

    Earlier this year, an amendment was passed and signed into law that will postpone the implementation of certain parts of Daniel’s Law until December 10, 2021. This has given the government entities, and private industry a chance to regroup and work with the legislation as written or to seek amendments to providing clarity or improvements. Both the NJLTA Legislative Committee and Charles Jones LLC are actively working together in an effort to favorably influence the final outcome. The common goal is to achieve safeguards for the “protected class” while allowing for access to public land records by land title professionals for uninterrupted real property transactions.

    While the delay is helpful, issues remain including:

    • Unless changed to an opt-in program, implementation is complicated. It is challenging for the various government entities to identify who the protected class is without further information from these individuals, or government agencies.
    • The government entities have not been provided funding to implement this legislation.
    • Protecting creditors’ rights by creating carve outs for lien attachments to “shielded” property addresses.
    • Certain transactions –including those involving the protected class –may not be able to take place without access to public records, which are a key component of successful real estate transfer.

    This is a high-profile issue. Can we protect these valuable and sometimes at-risk public servants? Can we do so without disrupting the transparency of the public land record system??

    I think the answer is yes and that this can be done by tweaking the existing law. We welcome you to share your thoughts on this important legislation.

    Additional information can be found at:

    by Patrick T. Roe
    General Manager
    Charles Jones LLC

    Charles Jones LLC is not a consumer reporting agency as such term is defined in the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq. ("FCRA"). Charles Jones reports do not constitute consumer reports as such term is defined in the FCRA, and accordingly these reports may not be used to determine eligibility for credit, employment, tenant screening or for any other purpose provided for in the FCRA.