Section 34-27-36

Disciplinary action - Generally.

(a) The commission or its staff may on its own, or on the verified complaint in writing of any person, investigate the actions and records of a licensee. The commission may issue subpoenas and compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of records and documents during an investigation. If probable cause is found, a formal complaint shall be filed and the commission shall hold a hearing on the formal complaint. The commission shall revoke or suspend the license or impose a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or both, or reprimand the licensee in each instance in which the licensee is found guilty of any of the following acts set out in this section. The commission may revoke or suspend a license until such time as the licensee has completed an approved continuing education course and/or made restitution to accounts containing funds to be held for other parties. The commission may also stay the revocation or suspension of a license and require completion of an approved education course and/or the making of restitution to accounts containing funds to be held for other parties.

(1) Procuring or attempting to procure, a license, for himself or herself or another, by fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit, or by making a material misstatement of fact in an application for a license.

(2) Engaging in misrepresentation or dishonest or fraudulent acts when selling, buying, trading, or renting real property of his or her own or of a spouse or child or parent.

(3) Making a material misrepresentation, or failing to disclose to a potential purchaser or lessee any latent structural defect or any other defect known to the licensee. Latent structural defects and other defects do not refer to trivial or insignificant defects but refer to those defects that would be a significant factor to a reasonable and prudent person in making a decision to purchase or lease.

(4) Making any false promises of a character likely to influence, persuade, or induce any person to enter into any contract or agreement.

(5) Pursuing a continued and flagrant course of misrepresentation or the making of false promises through agents or salespersons or any medium of advertising or otherwise.

(6) Publishing or causing to be published any advertisement which deceives or which is likely to deceive the public, or which in any manner tends to create a misleading impression or which fails to identify the person causing the advertisement to be placed as a licensed broker or salesperson.

(7) Acting for more than one party in a transaction without the knowledge and consent in writing of all parties for whom he or she acts.

(8)a. Failing, within a reasonable time, to properly account for or remit money coming into his or her possession which belongs to others, or commingling money belonging to others with his or her own funds.

b. Failing to deposit and account for at all times all funds belonging to, or being held for others, in a separate federally insured account or accounts in a financial institution located in Alabama.

c. Failing to keep for at least three years a complete record of funds belonging to others showing to whom the money belongs, date deposited, date of withdrawal, and other pertinent information.

(9) Placing a sign on any property offering it for sale, lease, or rent without the consent of the owner.

(10) Failing to voluntarily furnish a copy of each listing, contract, lease, and other document to each party executing the document with reasonable promptness.

(11) Paying any profit, compensation, commission, or fee to, or dividing any profit, compensation, commission, or fee with, anyone other than a licensee or multiple listing service. This subdivision shall not prevent an associate broker or salesperson from owning any lawfully constituted business organization, including, but not limited to, a corporation or limited liability company or limited liability corporation, for the purpose of receiving payments contemplated in this subsection. The business organization shall not be required to be licensed under this chapter, and shall not engage in any other activity requiring a real estate license.

(12) Paying or receiving any rebate from any person in a real estate transaction.

(13) Inducing any party to a contract to break the contract for the purpose of substituting a new contract, where the substitution is motivated by the personal gain of the licensee.

(14) If the licensee is a salesperson or associate broker, accepting a commission or other valuable consideration for performing any act for which a license is required from any person except his or her qualifying broker.

(15) If a qualifying broker or company, allowing a salesperson or associate broker licensed under him or her to advertise himself or herself as a real estate agent without the name or trade name of the qualifying broker or company appearing prominently on the advertising; or if the licensee is a salesperson or associate broker, advertising himself or herself as a real estate agent without the name or trade name of the qualifying broker or company under whom the salesperson or associate broker is licensed appearing prominently on the advertising.

(16) Presenting to the commission, as payment for a fee or fine, a check that is returned unpaid.

(17) Establishing an association, by employment or otherwise, with an unlicensed person who is expected or required to act as a licensee, or aiding, abetting, or conspiring with a person to circumvent the requirements of this chapter.

(18) Failing to disclose to an owner the licensee's intention to acquire, directly or indirectly, an interest in property which he or she or his or her associates have been employed to sell.

(19) Violating or disregarding any provision of this chapter or any rule, regulation, or order of the commission.

(20) If a broker, accepting a "net listing" agreement for sale of real property or any interest therein. A "net listing" is one that stipulates a net price to be received by the owner with the excess due to be received by the broker as his or her commission.

(21) Misrepresenting or failing to disclose to any lender, guaranteeing agency, or any other interested party, the true terms of a sale of real estate.

(22) Failing to inform the buyer or seller at the time an offer is presented that he or she will be expected to pay certain closing costs and the approximate amount of those costs.

(23)a. Having entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, or having been found guilty of or convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.

b. Having a final money judgment rendered against him or her which results from an act or omission occurring in the pursuit of his or her real estate business or involves the goodwill of an existing real estate business.

(24) Offering free lots or conducting lotteries for the purpose of influencing a party to purchase or lease real estate.

(25) Failing to include a fixed date of expiration in a written listing agreement or failing to leave a copy of the agreement with the principal.

(26) Conduct which constitutes or demonstrates dishonest dealings, bad faith, or untrustworthiness.

(27) Acting negligently or incompetently in performing an act for which a person is required to hold a real estate license.

(28) Failing or refusing on demand to produce a document, book, or record in his or her possession concerning a real estate transaction conducted by him or her for inspection by the commission or its authorized personnel or representative.

(29) Failing within a reasonable time to provide information requested by the commission during an investigation or after a formal complaint has been filed.

(30) Failing without cause to surrender to the rightful owner, on demand, a document or instrument coming into his or her possession.

(31) If a qualifying broker or company, failing to keep in their files copies of all contracts, leases, listings, and other records pertinent to real estate transactions for a period of three years.

(b) If it appears that a person, firm, corporation, or any business entity has engaged, or is about to engage, in an act or practice constituting a violation of Article 1 or 2 of this chapter or any rule or order of the commission, the commission, through the Attorney General, may institute legal actions to enjoin the act or practice and to enforce compliance with Articles 1 and 2 of this chapter or any rule or order of the commission. To prevail in an action, it shall not be necessary to allege or prove either that an adequate remedy at law does not exist or that substantial or irreparable damage would result from the continued violation.

(c)(1) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the commission may issue an order requiring any accused person, firm, corporation, or business entity to cease and desist from engaging in activities requiring a license under this chapter when the accused person, firm, corporation, or business entity is not licensed under this chapter. The order shall be entered by the executive director after a finding of probable cause by the commission staff. The order shall become final 15 days after its service upon the accused, unless the accused requests a hearing before the commission. Upon hearing the case and finding violations, the commission may make the cease and desist order final and the commission may impose a fine for each violation in an amount consistent with the range of fines applicable to licensees, and in addition, may impose a fine in the amount of any gain or economic benefit that was derived from the violation, and in addition, may impose a fine in the amount of the commission's costs incurred. Any fines not paid as ordered shall be enforceable in any court with competent jurisdiction and proper venue.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the commission may decline to issue an order requiring any accused person, firm, corporation, or business entity to cease and desist from engaging in activities requiring a license under this chapter when the accused person, firm, corporation, or business entity is not licensed under this chapter. In this instance, the commission shall proceed to give appropriate notice of the violations and hold a hearing thereon. Upon hearing the case and finding violations, the commission may impose a fine for each violation in an amount consistent with the range of fines applicable to licensees, and in addition, may impose a fine in the amount of any gain or economic benefit that was derived from the violation, and in addition, may impose a fine in the amount of the commission's costs incurred. Any fine or fines not paid as ordered shall be enforceable in any court with competent jurisdiction and proper venue.

(d) The commission shall notify the licensee and qualifying broker in writing regarding the complaint.

(e) The commission shall notify the complainant, licensee, and qualifying broker in writing regarding the disposition of the complaint.

(Acts 1951, No. 422, p. 745, §12; Acts 1963, No. 290, p. 734, §1; Acts 1971, No. 2485, p. 3966, §12; Acts 1971, 3rd Ex. Sess., No. 310, p. 4599, §1; Acts 1975, No. 563, p. 1276, §1; Acts 1978, No. 654, p. 932; Acts 1983, No. 83-516, p. 781, §1; Acts 1985, No. 85-750, §1; Acts 1989, No. 89-284, p. 447, §3; Acts 1992, No. 92-177, p. 305, §3; Acts 1996, No. 96-791, p. 1471, §1; Act 2003-298, p. 701, §1; Act 2005-314, 1st Sp. Sess., p. 646, §1; Act 2006-601, p. 1647, §1; Act 2009-617, p. 1781, §1.)