The regulations governing real estate agents and brokers are endless. It can seem like every aspect of your profession has a rule that must be complied with and the smallest error may result in disciplinary action. But if you receive a citation for an alleged violation, you do have options. It’s important to understand the process and what you can do.
The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) usually issues citations for relatively minor infractions, reserving formal disciplinary action for more serious offenses. Sometimes the citation will include nothing more than a directive to correct the action underlying the offense. But when the citation includes a fine, the fine can be up to $2500 per citation.
Contesting a citation
Receiving a citation from DRE is not the same as being guilty of the underlying offense. It is an accusation and that accusation can be wrong. If a licensee chooses to dispute the citation, they must notify DRE within 30 days of their intent to do so. Failure to provide notice within that timeframe automatically waives any right to appeal and the sanction becomes final.
Within 30 days of their receipt of the intent to dispute the citation, DRE will schedule a conference which the licensee may attend. This is an opportunity for the licensee to meet with DRE representatives and explain why they believe the citation is incorrect – and also to provide additional documents or information. DRE will then issue their decision within 30 days of the conference.
If DRE decides to let the citation stand, the licensee can still request a formal administrative hearing. The hearing will take place before an administrative law judge, with both the DRE and the licensee appearing. The licensee may be represented by legal counsel to protect their interests and submit evidence on their behalf. The judge’s decision is binding upon both the licensee and DRE.