As a licensed real estate agent, being on the wrong side of the law or simply being accused of it comes with severe consequences. If you have been arrested, pled guilty to charges, or have a criminal conviction, you are responsible for reporting such incidents to the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC). Failing to do so could jeopardize your professional licensing and reputation. An FREC defense lawyer in Orlando could help.
On occasion, a realtor may make a minor mistake that causes their client to be unhappy with their experience. Attacks on an individual’s professionalism and integrity could occur in retaliation and harm the realtor’s reputation and standing. Fortunately, these types of matters are fairly easy to clean up if you have a lawyer working with you. When your case involves an actual incident, you will have to address it professionally and legally.
Examples of serious misconduct include:
When the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) receives a complaint, it will begin its investigation by determining if any state laws or other governing rules, like those from the FREC, were broken. If a complaint is valid, the DBPR will reach out to you with a copy of the complaint so you can respond with any relevant documentation you might have. At this point, if you do not have an experienced Orlando real estate attorney to consult with, you should retain one immediately.
Further, the FREC will have two members form a Probable Cause Panel to review the report provided by DBPR to determine whether there is a valid case. They can take up to 30 days to complete this process, and they may dismiss the claim against you altogether or proceed with issuing a formal complaint against your license. This is filed through the DBPR and will list out the alleged charges against you, giving you three ways to respond to their complaint:
If you have not retained a lawyer by this point, you should do so before attending this hearing. With the help of a skilled real estate attorney, you may be able to correct any minor infractions committed. The commission that hears your case will also decide if it is appropriate to assign penalties, which could include:
Notice of Probation
This order will allow you to continue practicing using your real estate license but only under ordered direction and conditions as provided by the FREC.
Letter of Reprimand
This is an official record of the misconduct incident to be kept in your file, though no major disciplinary action will occur.
The FREC may cite the violation and fine you anywhere from $100 to $1,000.
Notice of Noncompliance
This warning is typically for minor violations where the FREC assigns you 15 days to correct instances of non-compliance before penalties get assessed.
When a complaint is not resolvable through an informal hearing or a licensee wishes to refute the allegations made, requesting a formal hearing through the DOAH is the next step. Much like the process of a civil or criminal court case, each involved party will present their facts and any witnesses or testimony. Once this phase is complete, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will decide on the disposition and write recommendations for penalties that the DBPR will use for their own deliberations.
The FREC has the final say over penalties and sanctions, regardless of the ALJ’s conclusions. They may modify or reject recommendations received from the formal hearing and instead impose their own penalties and sanctions as they see fit.
These could include:
Each separate offense that you are found guilty of could receive a fine of up to $5,000.
Professional License Suspension
The FREC can only suspend your professional real estate license for up to 10 years.
You may permanently lose your Florida real estate license. If this occurs, your attorney has 30 days to appeal this final order and petition for a judicial review.
One of the most significant mistakes individuals make when facing FREC complaints is trying to resolve it alone. The possibility of losing your real estate license is frightening and could ruin your reputation within your industry. Working with an experienced FREC defense attorney in Orlando can help you determine the best approach to defending your integrity in this industry.
The Orlando FREC defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm have the skills you need to navigate the complex real estate licensing laws that regulate your career. Our over 100 years of combined experience works to build the best defense strategy for your formal hearing and to 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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