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Legal Hotline: February 2007Advertising
Q. My real estate license reflects my full legal name, Jane Doe-Smith. However, I’m most commonly known as Jane Doe within the real estate community, and I only recently hyphenated my name legally and changed it on my real estate license. May I continue to use the name Jane Doe in my advertisement?
A. No. Rule 61J2-10.025(b), Florida Administrative Code (FAC),provides that when you use your personal name in an advertisement,at the very least, the last name must be given in the manner in which it is registered with the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC).

Complaints
Q. I’m a real estate broker. I recently heard from one of my sales associates that another sales associate in the office had an administrative complaint filed against him by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC). Will I get a copy of this administrative complaint?
A. Section 475.25(6), Florida Statutes, provides that, 10 days after the finding of probable cause, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) or FREC shall notify the broker or employer in writing that a formal administrative complaint has been filed against the licensee.

Q. May I find out about the complaint against my sales associate prior to the finding of probable cause?
A. No. Complaints against a licensee are confidential until 10 days after a finding of probable cause and filing of a formal administrative complaint. The finding or probable cause is when FREC’s probable cause panel authorizes the prosecutor to formally charge the licensee. Prior to that point, the complaint may not be disclosed, even to the broker or employer of the charged licensee, per Section 455.225(4), Florida Statutes.

Q. Will the customer who filed the complaint be notified about the status of the complaint against the licensee?
A. Yes. The DBPR is required, per Section 455.225(9), Florida Statutes, to periodically notify the person who filed the complaint of the status of the investigation, whether probable cause was found and the status of any administrative proceeding or appeal.

Escrow
Q. May a real estate broker place an escrow deposit for the sale and purchase of real property in an interest-bearing escrow account?
A. Rule 61J2-14.014, FAC, allows a broker to place escrow funds in an interest-bearing account, but only with the written permission of the parties to the sale and purchase transaction.
 
The permission of the parties must specify the party to receive the interest and the time when the earned interest must be disbursed. The funds must be maintained in an insured depository (i.e., Florida banking institution) located in the state of Florida.

Q. May the broker be designated by the parties to receive the interest on the escrow deposit for the sale and purchase of real property?
A. Yes. However, the broker must follow precisely one of the two approved disbursement procedures provided for in Rule 61J2-14.014, FAC.

Real Estate Brokerage
Q. I’m a broker who recently decided to open a new real estate company. My partner and I will each be 50 percent owners of the company’s voting stock. This partner is not a real estate licensee; in fact, three years ago the state issued an injunction against him for the unlicensed practice of real estate while employed as an unlicensed assistant at another real estate company. The DBPR recently rejected my corporate application package because of this violation by my partner. May they do this?
A. Rule 61J2-5.014, FAC, allows FREC or the DBPR to refuse to issue a registration for a corporation if any individual having more than 40 percent ownership of the voting stock has had an injunction issued against him or her for the unlicensed practice of real estate.