Real Estate & Brokers License Defense Attorney

Florida Real Estate License Defense Lawyers

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. 

What Happens if a Complaint Threatens My Real Estate or Brokers License?

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:

  • Their reputation could be at stake
  • Their real estate license could be suspended for up to ten years
  • Administrative fine up to $5,000 per violation
  • Probationary status on professional license
  • Revocation and termination of their real estate license

Who Regulates & Governs Realtors & Brokers? 

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.  

What Complaints Can Result in a Suspended or Revoked License? 

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: 

  • Inaccurate or misleading information is given to a buyer: If a Realtor does not disclose all pertinent information about a property to a buyer, such as a flood or fire risk, they can face complaints. 
  • Practicing without a valid license: Working in real estate without a valid or renewed license is illegal. Anyone facing this complaint can face serious repercussions. 
  • Deceptive or edited photos in the multi-listing service (MLS): A common complaint is when a photo is incorrectly uploaded on the MLS or edited past the point of accurately representing a property. 
  • Lack of awareness about neighborhood-specific matters: Realtors and brokers can face complaints if they withhold vital neighborhood-specific information from buyers that can affect the value of the property. For example, the planned construction of a freeway next door would need to be disclosed to a buyer.

Real Estate Violations Under Florida Law

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: 

  1. Fraud, misrepresentation, false promises, pretenses, dishonest dealing, or breach of trust in any business transaction
  2. Violating a legal duty by law or contract whether written, orally expressed, or implied in any real estate contract
  3. Conspiring or colliding with any person engaged in any misconduct 
  4. Advertising property or services in a manner that is fraudulent, false, misleading, or deceptive
  5. Misappropriating funds to include escrow fund violations and using escrow money for personal use or embezzlement
  6. Failure to deposit money in an escrow account when required by law
  7. Crimes involving fraud, moral turpitude, or any corruption related to the activities of a licensed broker or sales associate
  8. Improper fee sharing
  9. Negligence including failure to file a report
  10. Filing false or fraudulent reports or records
  11. Being confined in a county jail or state or federal prison, or perhaps a mental institution
  12. Failure to inform FREC of a criminal conviction or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to a felony within 30 days of disposition

What is the Process for Real Estate Complaints and Violation Allegations?

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:  

1. Request a Settlement of Penalty

While you can request the Penalty, it must first be approved by the Board.

2. Informal Hearing

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.

3. Formal Hearing

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.

How a License Defense Attorney Can Help You 

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: 

  • Represent you when you get notice of the initial complaint;
  • Help you prepare your defense to the complaint and try to get it thrown out;
  • Help you mitigate the potential penalties against you;
  • Represent and defend you before and at the Probable Cause Panel;
  • Handle your Informal Hearing and ask the FREC or DBPR to reduce or dismiss the complaint; 
  • Fight for you at your Formal Hearing. Our lawyers can vigorously defend you by presenting a defense, tearing apart the false allegation against you and put on a case to establish your innocence; or
  • Appeal your Final Order.  

Dedicated Real Estate License Defense Lawyers in Florida

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 at (407) 228-3838.