As a real estate broker in California, you know that violating the industry’s professional standards can put your license and your career in jeopardy. The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is known for aggressively investigating all accusations of professional misconduct, which can be a time-consuming and stressful experience, especially if you try to handle it on your own.
If your license is being threatened due to accusations by the DRE, working with a knowledgeable broker license defense lawyer like Scott J Harris, Esq. is often in your best interests.
What Is The Department Of Real Estate?
Formerly known as the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE), the DRE is charged with protecting the public from real estate-related harm by establishing regulations to keep industry standards high. They do this by issuing real estate licenses only to qualified applicants and promptly disciplining any agent or broker who violates laws or regulations.
Many real estate brokers believe there is little they can do to protect their license if they are faced with accusations by the DRE. However, working with a knowledgeable lawyer can greatly increase your odds of retaining your license.
Through our positive relationship with state and local agencies, the team at S J Harris Law can help you build a strong case to defend your license. In many cases, we can help you avoid licensing issues before they start by being available to address your questions throughout various licensing scenarios.
Real Estate Requirements In California
To attain a real estate license in California, you must be at least 18 years old, complete several educational requirements, pass the California Real Estate License Exam, and submit a license application. A vital part of the application requires you to disclose any past criminal violations or disciplinary actions against you. If you fail to do so, your license application may be denied.
To keep your license current, you must complete 45 hours of continuing education courses. In addition, if at any time while you are practicing as a real estate agent, you are charged with a criminal act, you must immediately report it to the DRE or face losing your license.
Common Questions When Trying To Get A License
Some of the most common questions among real estate license applicants involve how background checks, criminal records, and DUIs affect your ability to get a license.
Anyone applying for a real estate license must undergo a criminal background check. On your application, you must be open and honest about any convictions or criminal charges against you. If it is discovered that you lied on your application, your license will be denied. You must also disclose expunged convictions, among others.
If you have a criminal record, the DRE will then determine to what degree the crime is related to your ability to practice real estate. If they find that the crime is substantially related to the daily functions and duties you will perform on the job your license application will be denied. This could include DUIs, petty theft, fraud, dishonesty, grand theft, and other convictions.
Because license application processes can be complex, if you are struggling to get a license or your license is being threatened due to a crime, it’s a good idea to work with a California real estate license defense lawyer. S J Harris Law has a proven record of assisting clients with complex application issues.
Application Denials: How A License Defense Attorney Can Help
If the DRE denies your real estate license application, your first course of action should be to contact a broker license defense attorney. Doing this quickly is imperative, as there are many deadlines to meet when appealing a denial.
The team at S J Harris Law has vast experience with the license application process and is committed to helping clients who are having difficulties obtaining a license. We will not only ensure that you meet all deadlines but can assist you in determining the most convincing information to provide in support of your application. In addition, we can educate you about settlement options to resolve your case more quickly.
Reasons For A Real Estate License Revocation Or Suspension
If the Department of Real Estate suspects that you have violated real estate laws or regulations, they will file what is called an Accusation to revoke or suspend your license. If your license is suspended, you will be forbidden from practicing real estate for a specified amount of time. A revocation, however, is permanent.
There are many reasons why licenses are suspended or revoked. Operating without a license, working beyond the area of expertise you are licensed for, committing fraud, or misrepresenting information about the real estate process to clients can all put your license at risk. Unprofessional conduct of any kind can result in similar disciplinary action, as can failing to disclose a criminal charge against you.
As a real estate broker, you should be especially aware of financial issues that could put your license in danger. Recordkeeping errors found through DRE audits, trust fund violations (such as shortages or poorly kept or missing records), violations during short sales, and loan modification issues are just a few financial issues that can result in suspension and revocation.
Finally, it is incredibly important to remember that as a broker, you are responsible not only for your own conduct but for the behavior of the agents you oversee. If a salesperson performs duties that are outside the scope of their license or commits an accounting violation, your license could also be jeopardized.
Regardless of whether or not you are aware of the agent’s conduct, and even if your policies and contracts forbid their behavior, you can still face serious consequences. In part, this is because brokers are expected to properly supervise their salespeople at all times, which means ensuring they operate within regulations. If you discover that one of your salespeople is under investigation, it is crucial to contact a lawyer immediately to protect your license.
DRE Defense Process For Protecting Or Defending Your License
If the Department of Real Estate receives a written complaint or hears about a criminal allegation or conviction against you, an investigation will begin. Sometimes this investigation will be undercover, while other times you will receive a Notice of Investigation or audit notice by mail. It is in your best interest to avoid talking to board investigators until after you have spoken with an experienced DRE defense lawyer.
The team at S J Harris Law will gather essential DRE documents, help you collect evidence to support your case, and ensure that witnesses are prepared to counter the accusations against you effectively. As experienced negotiators, we have successfully arranged settlements for clients so that they can forgo a full hearing. If for any reason the case is not settled, we will bring in skilled litigators who will fight for you during a hearing.
In challenging cases, we can often help get you a reduced disciplinary action such as a restricted license so you can continue to work as a real estate broker as long as you meet specific terms and conditions. Over time, we can help you get these restrictions removed.
Likewise, if you have surrendered your license or have had it revoked, you may file a Petition for Reinstatement with the DRE. In this case, our team can give you specific recommendations for how to best position yourself for reinstatement and help you file a strong petition. If your real estate license has been revoked, suspended, or you are having difficulties getting a license, contact SJ Harris Law at 323-794-0701 for a free consultation.