Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Florida Statutes

You can review Florida Real Estate Statues in greater detail or reference Chapter 475.

Chapter 475.01(1)(b)
The 2003 change in Florida Statute 475.01(1)(b) renames "broker-salesperson" as a "broker associate." Although other legal updates make provisions for disbursing escrow funds without notifying the Commission and the statute of limitations for filing administrative complaints, none of the legal changes address the broker's compensation.

Chapter 475.161
Changes to Chapter 475.161 allow the department to license broker associates and sales associates as professional corporations or limited liability companies -- in addition to licensing individuals -- provided that licensees provide authorization from the Department of State and that the license is issued in the licensee's legal name with an entity designation when appropriate.

Chapter 475.175(1)(a)
Chapter 475.175(1)(a) allows applicants for the licensing examination to apply either electronically or by notarized written application. In both cases, a fingerprint card is required to be returned in order to check the applicant's criminal history. Technological interfaces will allow electronic fingerprinting after July 1, 2006. In addition to submitting the fingerprint card and application, candidates must also submit a certificate of coursework completion from an accredited or approved school.

Chapter 475.182(1)
Chapter 475.182(1) states that approval or denial of a specialty course must be based on the extent to which the course focuses on issues relevant to the practice of modern real estate, including the use of technology in real estate practice. Each license is valid for a two-year period, and licensees must complete at least 14 classroom hours (50 minute sessions) of approved continuing education courses, either in a traditional setting or via distance education. However, the commission may not require distance learners to complete written examinations at a centralized, monitored location. 60 days before the end of the licensure period, notification will be sent to licensees. Failure to renew within the set period results in a licensee being placed on involuntary inactive status until satisfactory completion of all renewal requirements.

Chapter 475.22(1)
Office signs are required by law rather than rule. Signage must be visible to anyone about to enter the broker's office and must clearly state the name of the agency, broker's name, and the broker's designation as licensee (either "Licensed Real Estate Broker" or "Lic. Real Estate Broker"). Posting a sign on the interior of an office space is a violation of the law. Clients must be able to view the sign before entering her office.

Chapter 475.25(1)(k)
The statutes were updated in 2003 to allow brokers to maintain up to $5,000 of personal or brokerage funds in a property management escrow account or up to $1,000 in a sales escrow account. In the case of errors, brokers are provided a reasonable time to correct errors (as long as there is no shortage of funds), and authorized disbursements may still occur.

Chapter 475.25(5)
Chapter 475.25(5) establishes a five-year statute of limitations for the department to file administrative complaints against an agent for her failure to keep and submit proper records of escrow funds. The other changes to the statutes of 475 do apply to issues about the disbursement of funds, criminal activity, or damages awarded from the Recovery Fund and administrative failure.

Chapter 475.25(6)
Chapter 475.25(6) requires FREC to promptly report criminal violations of any statute relating to the practice of real estate. Although Chapter 475.011 allows some exemptions for various individuals and entities who are allowed to operate without licensure in a limited context, a property management firm does not qualify for the exemption because the firm leases properties that it does not own and is not an on-site rental community. Since FREC has neither the jurisdiction to impose criminal sanctions nor the authority to impose administrative sanctions (on a non-licensed practitioner), the only recourse is to report those actions as criminal activity.

Chapter 475.278(3)(c)2
Chapter 475.278(3)(c)2 introduces a new form for the consent to transition to transaction broker and incorporates the verbiage of the transaction broker notice. Florida law now presumes, if neither single agency nor waiver of agency are provided for in writing, that licensees will serve as transaction brokers. Written disclosure of the transaction brokerage relationship will be required until July 1, 2008. At the current point in time, the only other agency relationship recognized is single agency -- although customers are able to waive their right to agency representation. Transaction brokerage is a limited form of representation for all parties in a transaction, and a licensee, using the new form provided, may transition from representing a single client (single agency) to representing both sides of a transaction.

Chapter 475.42(1)(o)
Intentionally misleading or misrepresenting properties in the course of selling or leasing real estate violates Chapter 475.42(1)(o).

Chapter 475.451(3)
Chapter 475.451(3) reduces the minimum number of hours of continuing education for permit renewal from 15 to 7. In order to renew her instructor's permit, Karen will need to complete at least 7 classroom hours of continuing education in real estate subjects or instructional techniques courses prescribed by the commission. In addition to submitting the permit renewal application with the required fee, Karen may also be required to submit names of persons who can speak to her character and/or she may be required to submit fingerprints for processing.

Chapter 475.483(3)
According to Chapter 475.483(3), when a broker is sued for acting on an escrow disbursement order of the commission, FREC must pay the broker's reasonable court costs and attorney's fees. In addition, if the plaintiff prevails in such a case, FREC must also pay the plaintiff's reasonable court costs and attorney's fees.

Chapter 475.484(1)(a)
Presuming that a claimant meets all the eligibility requirements for receiving payment from the Real Estate Recovery Fund, Chapter 475.484(1)(a) increases the maximum payment from the Recovery Fund to one person or from one transaction from $25,000 to $50,000 -- or an amount equal to the judgment against the broker or sales associate, whichever is less.

These statutes are provided to give you a basic understanding of Florida Real Estate Law. They do not substantiate as legal advice or replace the need for a lawyer. If you need help interpreting Florida Law we recommend that you seek a professional legal counselor.

1 comment:

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