How is My Real Estate Agent Regulated? And, What Do I Do if I Feel My Rights Have Been Violated? PART I
How do I know if I have been wronged?
You probably don’t know, actually. The best you’re likely to come up with is a gut feeling and a sense of injustice.
When people are moving, emotions often run high. It’s relatively common for one or more parties to become upset. Sometimes people end up feeling as though they have been wronged, even when their rights have not been violated.
Buyers and sellers sometimes speak – with certainty – that they have been wronged, but without contact with any of the appropriate authorities. When I hear these people pontificate on their conclusions, it is often clear that those conclusions have not been challenged professionally. Those who know the most are most likely to say things like “Well, that depends,” “That may or may not be the case,” or “It’s possible that…”
The feeling that you may have been wronged by a real estate professional must be vetted, with facts, before it can be determined that a wrong has occurred.
There is pertinent state law, federal law, common (case) law, and a binding Code of Ethics.
So, who do I contact if I feel I’ve been wronged?
In Florida, there are three primary authorities:
Local and state-level courts (usually through an attorney), the Association of Realtors, and the Department of Professional Regulation.
Most consumer complaints about Realtors break into two major categories:
- My Realtor made me feel (or think) something I didn’t like…
- My Realtor cost me (or took my) money…
In either case, many consumers begin by calling an attorney. The issue is that, even if you truly have experienced a violation, it may not be a violation which is financially worth an attorney’s time. So, finding that attorneys have no interest in filing a lawsuit regarding your complaint IS NOT evidence that your Realtor is in the right.
When an attorney is willing to file on your behalf, it is generally because there are big dollars involved. In that case, they will help you bring evidence to one-or-more parties in the judicial branch of government, and then they will seek a favorable (for you) interpretation of what has occurred.
If you get a court order, that court order is law, and must be followed. If not followed, the non-compliant party(ies) face contempt of court, arrest warrant, and further court orders.
Note: A small claim (in Florida) is $5,000 or less. So, if your claim is not monetary, or if it exceeds the $5,000 cap, a small claim filing is not an option.
If you have any questions, please email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check back next month for Part II and learn what you can do if you believe you have been wronged by a Realtor.