These are the most important points for you to remember in this unit.
Any person may file a complaint with the DBPR.
The alleged violations need not pertain specifically to real estate transactions and need not have taken place in Florida.
The complaint must include the name of a person who holds a real estate license. A complaint with only a corporate name is not sufficient.
A complaint is “legally sufficient” if it alleges a violation of a Florida statute, a DBPR rule, or a FREC rule.
Once a complaint is determined to be legally sufficient, the DBPR will assign an investigator to the matter.
If an investigator learns that a licensee is a danger to the public, the Secretary of the DBPR can issue an emergency (summary) suspension.
The probable cause panel does not determine the guilt or innocence of the subject, just whether there is reasonable cause to hold a hearing.
A formal hearing is presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The administrative law judge submits a recommended order to DBPR which includes both findings of fact and recommendations for discipline.
Members of the FREC not on the probable cause panel make up the final order panel.
The licensee may appeal the final order to the District Court of Appeal within 30 days.
The DRE has three possible responses for violations of the real estate license law:
The notification of noncompliance is a minor violation correctable within 15 days.
A citation offense is not substantial, and is not a danger to the public.
The licensee can dispute the charges and request a formal hearing within 30 days, or pay the citation.
Citations require payments of $100 up to $500, depending on the violation.
An administrative complaint is the most serious response.
The FREC may impose administrative penalties, including
reprimand, deny a license application, refuse to recertify a license for renewal, place a licensee on probation, impose a fine of up to $5,000 per violation, or suspend a license for up to ten years,
and/or revoke a license.
An individual can face criminal penalties for violations of the license law.
A violation of the license law is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and a jail term of not more than 60 days.
The one first-degree misdemeanor in real estate is failing to provide accurate and current rental information for a fee. The penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is a fine of not more than $1,000 and not more than one year in jail.
There are three third-degree felonies associated with the license law:
falsifying an application for licensure with the DBPR,
practicing real estate without a license, and
stealing or reproducing a DBPR license exam.
Real Estate Recovery Fund
The fund will reimburse any person or corporation who has sustained a loss due to the misconduct of an active licensee.
Payments from the fund are a maximum of
$50,000 from any one transaction, or
$150,000 from multiple judgments/transactions for one licensee.
Payments from the fund due to a licensee’s misconduct will result in automatic suspension of the person’s license. The individual’s license may not be reinstated until the licensee has repaid in full, plus interest, the amount paid from the fund.
A broker may also receive reimbursement for court‑awarded damages because the broker followed an escrow disbursement order.
The special fee is discontinued when the fund balance exceeds $1,000,000, and begins again when the fund drops below $500,000.