FREC Case Study: Security deposit
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
By Joshua Kendrick
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
In 2008, a licensed real estate broker entered into a property management agreement to act as the agent for a landlord’s rental property. Subsequently, the broker secured a tenant and collected, among other money, a $750 security deposit from the tenant. Through either error or design, the security deposit was never passed on to the landlord, and the broker retained it.
The landlord filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Busines and Professional Regulation in 2009, and the department initiated an investigation into the landlord’s claims. After investigation and upon review by the Office of General Counsel, an administrative complaint was filed against the broker. The administrative complaint against the licensee alleged violation of Section 475.25(1)(d), Florida Statutes, for failing to account for and deliver client funds in a timely manner.
The licensee requested an informal hearing as opposed to a formal hearing, and the matter was referred to the Florida Real Estate Commission for adjudication at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting. An informal hearing means that no facts are in dispute and that a formal hearing and an administrative law judge are not necessary to resolve any factual disputes.
At the scheduled informal hearing, the licensee began attempting to dispute facts, specifically disputing the amount of money he had taken, not whether he had turned over the $750 security deposit. The licensee also called the affair "laughable” and made other statements that indicated he had no respect for the serious nature of the proceedings. Ultimately, the fact that the licensee knowingly and willfully failed to pay a debt to a client, and the disrespect he showed for the proceedings, led to the permanent revocation of his license by the Florida Real Estate Commission.
Joshua Kendrick is a senior attorney with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.