(1) The commission may deny an application for licensure, registration, or permit, or renewal thereof; may place a licensee, registrant, or permittee on probation; may suspend a license, registration, or permit for a period not exceeding 10 years; may revoke a license, registration, or permit; may impose an administrative fine not to exceed $5,000 for each count or separate offense; and may issue a reprimand, and any or all of the foregoing, if it finds that the licensee, registrant, permittee, or applicant:
(a) Has violated any provision of s. 455.227(1) or s. 475.42. However, licensees under this part are exempt from the provisions of s. 455.227(1)(i).
(b) Has been guilty of fraud, misrepresentation, concealment, false promises, false pretenses, dishonest dealing by trick, scheme, or device, culpable negligence, or breach of trust in any business transaction in this state or any other state, nation, or territory; has violated a duty imposed upon her or him by law or by the terms of a listing contract, written, oral, express, or implied, in a real estate transaction; has aided, assisted, or conspired with any other person engaged in any such misconduct and in furtherance thereof; or has formed an intent, design, or scheme to engage in any such misconduct and committed an overt act in furtherance of such intent, design, or scheme. It is immaterial to the guilt of the licensee that the victim or intended victim of the misconduct has sustained no damage or loss; that the damage or loss has been settled and paid after discovery of the misconduct; or that such victim or intended victim was a customer or a person in confidential relation with the licensee or was an identified member of the general public.
(c) Has advertised property or services in a manner which is fraudulent, false, deceptive, or misleading in form or content. The commission may adopt rules defining methods of advertising that violate this paragraph.
(d)1. Has failed to account or deliver to any person, including a licensee under this chapter, at the time which has been agreed upon or is required by law or, in the absence of a fixed time, upon demand of the person entitled to such accounting and delivery, any personal property such as money, fund, deposit, check, draft, abstract of title, mortgage, conveyance, lease, or other document or thing of value, including a share of a real estate commission if a civil judgment relating to the practice of the licensee’s profession has been obtained against the licensee and said judgment has not been satisfied in accordance with the terms of the judgment within a reasonable time, or any secret or illegal profit, or any divisible share or portion thereof, which has come into the licensee’s hands and which is not the licensee’s property or which the licensee is not in law or equity entitled to retain under the circumstances. However, if the licensee, in good faith, entertains doubt as to what person is entitled to the accounting and delivery of the escrowed property, or if conflicting demands have been made upon the licensee for the escrowed property, which property she or he still maintains in her or his escrow or trust account, the licensee shall promptly notify the commission of such doubts or conflicting demands and shall promptly:
a. Request that the commission issue an escrow disbursement order determining who is entitled to the escrowed property;
b. With the consent of all parties, submit the matter to arbitration;
c. By interpleader or otherwise, seek adjudication of the matter by a court; or
d. With the written consent of all parties, submit the matter to mediation. The department may conduct mediation or may contract with public or private entities for mediation services. However, the mediation process must be successfully completed within 90 days following the last demand or the licensee shall promptly employ one of the other escape procedures contained in this section. Payment for mediation will be as agreed to in writing by the parties. The department may adopt rules to implement this section.
If the licensee promptly employs one of the escape procedures contained herein and abides by the order or judgment resulting therefrom, no administrative complaint may be filed against the licensee for failure to account for, deliver, or maintain the escrowed property. Under certain circumstances, which the commission shall set forth by rule, a licensee may disburse property from the licensee’s escrow account without notifying the commission or employing one of the procedures listed in sub-subparagraphs a.-d. If the buyer of a residential condominium unit delivers to a licensee written notice of the buyer’s intent to cancel the contract for sale and purchase, as authorized by s. 718.503, or if the buyer of real property in good faith fails to satisfy the terms in the financing clause of a contract for sale and purchase, the licensee may return the escrowed property to the purchaser without notifying the commission or initiating any of the procedures listed in sub-subparagraphs a.-d.
2. Has failed to deposit money in an escrow account when the licensee is the purchaser of real estate under a contract where the contract requires the purchaser to place deposit money in an escrow account to be applied to the purchase price if the sale is consummated.
(e) Has violated any of the provisions of this chapter or any lawful order or rule made or issued under the provisions of this chapter or chapter 455.
(f) Has been convicted or found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the activities of a licensed broker or sales associate, or involves moral turpitude or fraudulent or dishonest dealing. The record of a conviction certified or authenticated in such form as to be admissible in evidence under the laws of the state shall be admissible as prima facie evidence of such guilt.
(g) Has had a broker’s or sales associate’s license revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, or has had an application for such licensure denied, by the real estate licensing agency of another state, territory, or country.
(h) Has shared a commission with, or paid a fee or other compensation to, a person not properly licensed as a broker, broker associate, or sales associate under the laws of this state, for the referral of real estate business, clients, prospects, or customers, or for any one or more of the services set forth in s. 475.01(1)(a). For the purposes of this section, it is immaterial that the person to whom such payment or compensation is given made the referral or performed the service from within this state or elsewhere; however, a licensed broker of this state may pay a referral fee or share a real estate brokerage commission with a broker licensed or registered under the laws of a foreign state so long as the foreign broker does not violate any law of this state.
(i) Has become temporarily incapacitated from acting as a broker or sales associate with safety to investors or those in a fiduciary relation with her or him because of drunkenness, use of drugs, or temporary mental derangement; but suspension of a license in such a case shall be only for the period of such incapacity.
(j) Has rendered an opinion that the title to any property sold is good or merchantable, except when correctly based upon a current opinion of a licensed attorney at law, or has failed to advise a prospective purchaser to consult her or his attorney on the merchantability of the title or to obtain title insurance.
(k) Has failed, if a broker, to immediately place, upon receipt, any money, fund, deposit, check, or draft entrusted to her or him by any person dealing with her or him as a broker in escrow with a title company, banking institution, credit union, or savings and loan association located and doing business in this state, or to deposit such funds in a trust or escrow account maintained by her or him with some bank, credit union, or savings and loan association located and doing business in this state, wherein the funds shall be kept until disbursement thereof is properly authorized; or has failed, if a sales associate, to immediately place with her or his registered employer any money, fund, deposit, check, or draft entrusted to her or him by any person dealing with her or him as agent of the registered employer. The commission shall establish rules to provide for records to be maintained by the broker and the manner in which such deposits shall be made. A broker may place and maintain up to $5,000 of personal or brokerage funds in the broker’s property management escrow account and up to $1,000 of personal or brokerage funds in the broker’s sales escrow account. A broker shall be provided a reasonable amount of time to correct escrow errors if there is no shortage of funds and such errors pose no significant threat to economically harm the public. It is the intent of the Legislature that, in the event of legal proceedings concerning a broker’s escrow account, the disbursement of escrowed funds not be delayed due to any dispute over the personal or brokerage funds that may be present in the escrow account.
(l) Has made or filed a report or record which the licensee knows to be false, has willfully failed to file a report or record required by state or federal law, has willfully impeded or obstructed such filing, or has induced another person to impede or obstruct such filing; but such reports or records shall include only those which are signed in the capacity of a licensed broker or sales associate.
(m) Has obtained a license by means of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment.
(n) Is confined in any county jail, postadjudication; is confined in any state or federal prison or mental institution; is under home confinement ordered in lieu of institutional confinement; or, through mental disease or deterioration, can no longer safely be entrusted to competently deal with the public.
(o) Has been found guilty, for a second time, of any misconduct that warrants her or his suspension or has been found guilty of a course of conduct or practices which show that she or he is so incompetent, negligent, dishonest, or untruthful that the money, property, transactions, and rights of investors, or those with whom she or he may sustain a confidential relation, may not safely be entrusted to her or him.
(p) Has failed to inform the commission in writing within 30 days after pleading guilty or nolo contendere to, or being convicted or found guilty of, any felony.
(q) Has violated any provision of s. 475.2755 or s. 475.278, including the duties owed under those sections.
(r) Has failed in any written listing agreement to include a definite expiration date, description of the property, price and terms, fee or commission, and a proper signature of the principal(s); and has failed to give the principal(s) a legible, signed, true and correct copy of the listing agreement within 24 hours of obtaining the written listing agreement. The written listing agreement shall contain no provision requiring the person signing the listing to notify the broker of the intention to cancel the listing after such definite expiration date.
(s) Has had a registration suspended, revoked, or otherwise acted against in any jurisdiction. The record of the disciplinary action certified or authenticated in such form as to be admissible in evidence under the laws of the state shall be admissible as prima facie evidence of such disciplinary action.
(t) Has violated any standard of professional practice adopted by rule of the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board, including standards for the development or communication of a real estate appraisal, as approved and adopted by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation, as defined in s. 475.611. This paragraph does not apply to a real estate broker or sales associate who, in the ordinary course of business, performs a comparative market analysis, gives a broker price opinion, or gives an opinion of value of real estate. However, in no event may this comparative market analysis, broker price opinion, or opinion of value of real estate be referred to as an appraisal, as defined in s. 475.611.
(u) Has failed, if a broker, to direct, control, or manage a broker associate or sales associate employed by such broker. A rebuttable presumption exists that a broker associate or sales associate is employed by a broker if the records of the department establish that the broker associate or sales associate is registered with that broker. A record of licensure which is certified or authenticated in such form as to be admissible in evidence under the laws of the state is admissible as prima facie evidence of such registration.
(v) Has failed, if a broker, to review the brokerage’s trust accounting procedures in order to ensure compliance with this chapter.
(2) A license may be revoked or canceled if it was issued through the mistake or inadvertence of the commission. Such revocation or cancellation shall not prejudice any subsequent application for licensure filed by the person against whom such action was taken.
(3) The department shall reissue the license of a licensee against whom disciplinary action was taken upon certification by the commission that the licensee has complied with all of the terms and conditions of the final order imposing discipline.
(4) The commission may adopt rules allowing the director of the Division of Real Estate to grant to a licensee placed on probation additional time within which to complete the terms of probation, but the rules must allow the licensee to appeal any denial to the commission.
(5) An administrative complaint against a broker, broker associate, or sales associate shall be filed within 5 years after the time of the act giving rise to the complaint or within 5 years after the time the act is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
(6) The department or commission shall promptly notify a licensee’s broker or employer, as defined in this part, in writing, when a formal complaint is filed against the licensee alleging violations of this chapter or chapter 455. The department shall not issue a notification to the broker or employer until 10 days after a finding of probable cause has been found to exist by the probable cause panel or by the department, or until the licensee waives his or her privilege of confidentiality under s. 455.225, whichever occurs first.
(7) The commission shall promptly report to the proper prosecuting authority any criminal violation of any statute relating to the practice of a real estate profession regulated by the commission.
History.—s. 26, ch. 12223, 1927; CGL 4087; s. 3, ch. 24090, 1947; s. 11, ch. 25035, 1949; s. 10, ch. 26484, 1951; s. 5, ch. 29983, 1955; s. 1, ch. 61-108; ss. 1, 2, ch. 70-421; s. 3, ch. 75-112; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 1, ch. 78-117; s. 9, ch. 78-366; ss. 19, 42, 43, ch. 79-239; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 21, 38, ch. 82-1; ss. 21, 45, ch. 82-179; s. 61, ch. 83-329; ss. 13, 28, 30, ch. 88-20; s. 2, ch. 89-76; s. 15, ch. 90-228; s. 15, ch. 90-341; s. 18, ch. 90-345; s. 5, ch. 91-89; s. 5, ch. 91-289; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 147, ch. 92-149; ss. 10, 141, ch. 94-119; s. 3, ch. 94-337; s. 2, ch. 97-42; s. 373, ch. 97-103; s. 2, ch. 98-116; s. 123, ch. 98-166; s. 6, ch. 98-250; s. 4, ch. 99-384; s. 183, ch. 2000-160; s. 1, ch. 2000-198; s. 1, ch. 2001-274; s. 34, ch. 2003-164; s. 4, ch. 2006-210; s. 56, ch. 2009-195; s. 47, ch. 2010-106; s. 10, ch. 2012-61.