Did you receive an administrative complaint from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)? Are you feeling anxious about what may happen to your real estate career? We know you worked hard to become an agent or broker and you want to protect your license. Being a part of this professional group means being held to a high level of expertise and integrity.
Real estate often involves high-pressure lifetime decisions when people are buying a home or commercial property. Unfortunately, sometimes people are not happy about a transaction and will file a complaint against a real estate agent. What may seem like a trivial comment or action can be misinterpreted, resulting in prompt professional agencies such as FREC or DBPR to question a person’s competence to practice as a member of their chosen profession.
If someone files a complaint against you, there are many penalties you can face that can damage your career and personal life. Penalties that Realtors or brokers might face if they get a complaint against their license include:
Like other professionals, real estate agents are governed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). This agency deals with the licensing and regulation of approximately 400,000 professionals in more than 25 professions throughout Florida.
Under the DBPR, the Division of Real Estate is in charge of examinations, licensing, and regulation of the licenses of more than 250,000 real estate agents across the State of Florida. Along with the Division of Real Estate, Realtors are governed by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC), which enforces and administers real estate license law. The Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board regulates appraisers.
A variety of actions that might seem insignificant can lead to disciplinary action against a Realtor or broker’s license. Whether it’s a misinterpreted comment, a serious accusation of misconduct, or an arrest – it’s essential that you have trusted and experienced legal representation through every step of these complex procedures.
In Florida, common complaints against Realtors and brokers include:
Florida Statute Chapter 475 sets forth the violations of law that respective professional boards and agencies, like the DBPR, may prosecute.
Violations under Florida Statute 475 include:
If a consumer files a complaint against you, it can be investigated by the DBPR or the FREC. You will be given a copy of the complaint, and you may be requested to provide supporting documentation or other evidence. The DBPR or FREC can dismiss the complaint or open an investigation that is usually handled by a Probable Cause Panel. The Panel has thirty days to determine if probable cause exists. The FREC can dismiss the complaint, provide you with a simple “Letter of Guidance,” or refer the matter for prosecution.
If your matter is referred for a Formal Complaint process, you will be notified of the charges against you. At this point, you have several options available to you:
While you can request the Penalty, it must first be approved by the Board.
You can’t contest the facts, but you can correct a small violation in an Informal Hearing to resolve the matter. As a penalty, you could face a reprimand, a citation with a fine, probation, or a notice of non-compliance.
You can dispute the charges against you in a Formal Hearing that’s presided over by an Administrative Law Judge. Your lawyer can contest facts, cross-examine witnesses, present documents, supporting witnesses, and evidence in your defense. The Judge will draft an Order that’s sent to the FREC, which will enter a Final Order. You could either win or face harsh penalties that include fines up to $5,000 per violation, license suspension up to ten years, or in the worst case – a license revocation.
After a Formal Hearing, you still have a right to appeal a Final Order through the courts.
If a complaint has been filed against you, it’s essential to contact a License Defense Attorney with experience in real estate law as early in the process as possible. At The Umansky Law Firm, our attorneys can guide you through each stage of the process and help determine the best course of action based on the allegations of the complaint.
Other ways that a License Defense Lawyer can help you include:
If someone has filed a complaint against you that may result in your real estate license being suspended or revoked, call The Umansky Law Firm for help. As accomplished trial lawyers with more than 100 years of combined experience, we can help prepare a robust defense against you that may lead to a dismissal of the complaint or allegations made against you.
Sometimes, a complaint can move forward, not for any misconduct, but because of incomplete or inaccurate information sent to the FREC. Let our real estate license defense lawyers help ensure the right information is used to assist in your defense.
Attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm include former prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as those who have worked directly for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). To speak with an administrative lawyer today about your case, complete an online contact form or call today.
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