Florida requires anyone selling real estate as an agent, broker, or salesperson to obtain licensing to do so. To qualify for a license, individuals must meet several requirements, such as submitting fingerprints electronically, completing a pre-approved licensing instruction course within two years of applying, and passing the Florida Real Estate Agent Exam.
Until you have completed this process and received your Florida real estate license, you cannot act as a realtor. Doing so without proper credentials is a crime in Florida and comes with career-damaging penalties if you are convicted.
Without licensing, any engagement in real estate activities that involve compensation is subject to prosecution. These activities do not have to involve you being directly involved with the sale. Below is a list of common offenses committed without a real estate license:
Florida Statute 475.42(1)(a) states that unlicensed persons engaging in the previously mentioned real estate activities are committing a third-degree felony. Specific activities that fall under this statute are further defined under Florida Statute 475.01(1)(a).
As a third-degree felony, Unlicensed Practice of Real Estate is typically a Level 1 offense under the state criminal punishment code. Penalties for conviction are severe and can potentially put an offender behind bars for several years.
A judge may sentence convicted individuals to any combination of the penalties below:
Another aspect of violating real estate law as an unlicensed broker is the administrative penalties levied against you, even if not criminally convicted. Section 455.28 of Florida Statutes allow for the imposition of additional administrative fines. These consequences are also governed by Florida Rule 61J2-24.001(3)(w) and set forth the amounts for each violation, which can range from $250 to $2,500 apiece. This amount can change dramatically if you already have a history of operating without a real estate license, where fines can increase to $1,000 to $5,000 each.
In addition to monetary consequences, if you are guilty of practicing without an active license, you could face a suspension or revocation of your license. This action will also be visible on public records, which can devastate your future in this highly competitive market.
The good news is that these penalties are not mandatory or definite. The Florida Real Estate Commission may consider the circumstance of your case and decrease the fine total. This is best accomplished by working with an experienced real estate law attorney who may be able to increase your chance of lesser penalties or a complete administrative dismissal.
While there are numerous defense possibilities to these charges in initial pretrial defense procedures, specific strategies by an experienced real estate law attorney are a better approach. Two approaches that may apply to your court case are:
Florida law allows individuals to help others in purchasing, selling, and trading of real estate property so long as there is not any compensation involved. This is often the case in Orlando because of timeshares or retired relatives owning property in the area. Maybe a parent needs to sell their home and move to an assisted living facility—in this way, a relative could handle the selling process.
Any real estate that you personally own you can dispose of as you see fit without a license. This is also the same for individuals wanting to buy or rent real estate on their own from someone else.
One of the most significant mistakes individuals make when facing unlicensed practice of real estate charges is assuming it is a minor crime. The state of Florida takes this violation seriously, as does the Florida Real Estate Commission. The possibility of losing your real estate career or opportunity for a license can permanently ruin your reputation within this highly competitive industry. Working with an experienced real estate law attorney in Orlando can help you determine the best approach to defending your integrity.
The defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm have the skills you need to navigate the complex real estate licensing laws that regulate your career and protect your future career from coming to an end. Our over 100 years of combined experience works to build the best defense strategy for your formal hearing and will aggressively protect the future of your career. Choosing a firm that has received recognition on sites like SuperLawyers will put your mind at ease. You will be in good hands with our legal team. To arrange your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us or contact us online 24/7.
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