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Broker Disclosure Law

Realtor showing home
Q. I’m a broker, and I was out of the office when a prospective buyer called about seeing one of my residential listings. I know that a sales associate or broker doesn’t already represent this buyer and that he will ask me to be his transaction broker. Idon’t have time to go back to the office to get the transaction broker notice form, so may I show him the house and give him the form later?
A. No. Section 475.278(2)(b), Florida Statutes, provides that a written transaction broker notice “must be made before, or at the time of, entering into a listing agreement or an agreement for representation or before the showing of property, whichever occurs first.”

Escrow

Q. I’m a sales associate working with a buyer who will make an offer on a house. The buyer gave me the escrow deposit check to hold in my brokerage company’s escrow account. When do I have to deposit this escrow check?
A. Rule 61J2-14.009, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), provides that when a sales associate receives an escrow deposit, he or she must deliver it “to the broker or employer no later than the end of the next business day following receipt of the item to be deposited. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall not be construed as business days.”

Then, according to Rule 61J2-14.010(1), FAC, the broker must immediately deposit the escrow deposit into the escrow account. Rule 61J2-14.008(3), FAC, defines immediately as “… the placement of a deposit in an escrow account no later than the end of the third business day following receipt of the item to be deposited. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall not be considered business days.”

Real Estate License Law

Q. I’m the broker-owner of a real estate brokerage in Jacksonville. I want to register “ABC Realty” as my trade name. But a real estate brokerage in Miami has this same trade name. Since the brokerage companies are located in different parts of the state, may we have the same trade name?
A. No. Rule 61J2-10.034, FAC, provides that the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) “will refuse to issue a license containing a trade name which is the same as the real or trade name of another registrant or licensee registered or licensed with the Commission.”

Q. I’m a new broker starting my own real estate brokerage. I’ve considered renting commercial office space, but it’s too expensive. May I operate a brokerage in my home?
A. Yes. Rule 61J2-10.022, FAC, provides that a broker’s office “may be in a residential location, if not contrary to local zoning ordinances, provided the minimum office requirements are met and the required broker’s sign is properly displayed. …”

Q. Is there any criminal liability for someone who performs real estate activity for compensation without a real estate license?
A. Yes, it’s a third degree felony. Section 475.42(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides that “a person may not operate as a broker or sales associate without being the holder of a valid and current active license. …” Report unlicensed real estate activity to the toll-free unlicensed activity line at (866) 532-1440.

Q. I’m a sales associate representing a buyer who was so appreciative of my hard work that she purchased a mall gift certificate in my name. I told my buyer that I would not be able to accept this because all compensation related to a real estate transaction must be paid to my broker. Was I correct?
A. Yes. Section 475.42(1)(d), Florida Statutes, provides that “a sales associate may not collect any money in connection with any real estate brokerage transaction, whether as commission, deposit, payment, rental, or otherwise, except in the name of the employer and with the express consent of the employer. …”

Q. A former client is going to file a complaint against me with FREC because he’s unhappy with my performance in handling the sale of his home. The closing occurred almost two years ago. What is the statute of limitations for filing a FREC administrative complaint?
A. Section 475.25(5), Florida Statutes, states that “…an administrative complaint against a broker or broker associate must be filed within five years after the time of the act giving rise to the complaint or within five years after the time the act is discovered through the exercise of due diligence.”

Real Estate Practice

Q. I’m a broker who would like to manage residential properties. I’ve reviewed the Florida Supreme Court–approved leases for residential properties, but I’d prefer to use a lease I bought in an office supply store. Am I legally required to use the Florida Supreme Court-approved leases?
A. Yes. In 1992, the Florida Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion in which it said real estate licensees may only fill in the blanks in residential leases approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Court-approved residential lease forms are available through the Florida Association of Realtors®. Log on to Planet Realtor (www.planetrealtor.com) and click on “Forms.” If a real estate licensee is preparing a lease other than one of the Florida Supreme Court–approved leases, he or she may be conducting the unauthorized practice of law.

Residential Landlord/Tenant Act

Q. I am the residential property manager for an absentee owner. The property owner will be maintaining the advance rent and security deposit in an escrow account. He lives in California and wants to deposit the funds in a banking institution there. May the owner do this?
A. No. Section 83.49(1), Florida Statutes, provides that if a landlord is depositing the tenant’s advance rent and security deposit into an escrow account, this escrow account must be held in a Florida banking institution.

Q. I manage a residential property for a landlord who entered into a written lease with a tenant. The lease includes a provision requiring that all vehicles be parked on the driveway or on the street. Because the tenant continually parks his cars on the front yard, the landlord wants to terminate the lease. May he do so?
A. The Residential Landlord/Tenant Act, specifically Section 83.56(2), outlines the notice procedure the landlord must follow if he or she wants to terminate the lease based on the tenant’s failure to comply (other than for nonpayment of rent).

Section 83.56(2) provides that if the tenant’s noncompliance is of the nature that the tenant should be given the opportunity to cure, the landlord must provide a written notice offering the tenant the right to cure the noncompliance within seven days of receipt of the notice.

The law further states that parking in an unauthorized manner or permitting such parking is a noncompliance that the tenant should be given the opportunity to cure. If the tenant doesn’t stop parking on the front yard within the seven-day period or if the same noncompliance occurs within 12 months, the landlord may terminate the lease by giving the tenant a second notice specifying the noncompliance and stating that the lease is terminated and that the tenant has seven days in which to vacate the dwelling.

FAR members may speak with an attorney on a range of topics including licensing, contracts and landlord/tenant matters. Legal Hotline: (407) 438-1409