Georgia Real Estate Laws Protect The Public And Real Estate Licensees
The purpose of the Georgia real estate law, first passed by the state legislature in 1925, is to protect the public against dishonest or incompetent real estate agents. The laws are also designed to protect real estate agents from unfair competition and set forth the standards by which licensees are expected to follow. Administration of these laws falls under the Georgia Real Estate Commission.
One of the responsibilities of the Commission members is the ensure that licensees and the public receive their due process rights. The Commission establishes specific guidelines for the staff to initiate and conduct necessary investigations. Commission members are only authorized to act to discipline a licensee within the procedures set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act that governs all state agencies with regulatory authority. Within the hearing process, Commission members may discover that a licensee or a member of the public has committed what appears to be an improper act. However, unless the law expressly prohibits that act, the Commission may not use its authority to correct the mistake or impose punishment.
Understanding The Scope Of The Georgia Real Estate Commission’s Authority
The license law gives the Commission the authority to make rules and regulations, which have been designed to clarify sections of the law. A violation of a rule is considered the same as violating the license law itself and is subject to the same disciplinary actions.
The Commission has the authority, under statutory law, to take disciplinary actions for any violation of the license law or of its rules or regulations. This includes the right to initiate investigations regarding licensees or to conduct investigations about licensees requested in sworn written statements by others. The disciplinary actions might include any of the following, or a combination of any of the following, depending on the offense:
- Permanent revocation of the license
- Suspension of a license for a set, temporary period of time
- Required attendance at a specific educational program
- In the case of a trust account violation, periodic reports from an independent accountant
- Imposition of fines
- Censure (reprimand), in the case of minor violations
- For a relatively minor violation, the commission may choose to issue citations and skip the formal hearing process
The Commission may investigate not just licensees but the actions of any applicant for licensure or real estate courses or instructors approved by the commission.
Steps Of The Investigation Process
An investigation generally follows these steps:
- The case is assigned to a commission investigator.
- The investigator gathers evidence. This person does have the authority to utilize subpoenas when necessary in this process.
- Once the investigation is finished, a report will be given to the commission, stating whether evidence of a possible violation exists. If no evidence is found, the investigation ends.
- If evidence is found regarding a minor infraction, a citation might be issued and a fine imposed.
- If evidence is found of a more serious violation, the case is then referred to the Attorney General, and a formal hearing is scheduled. At this point, the licensee may hire an attorney for representation. THIS IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.
- After the hearing, the hearing officer must report the findings of fact to the Real Estate Commission. Then, the commission determines what disciplinary action would be appropriate for the violation.
- If there are sanctions imposed against the licensee, the right to appeal is available. If the licensee decides to appeal, the sanctions will not be imposed until the appeals are exhausted.
Speak To An Attorney With More Than 35 Years Of Experience
Rhonda Fishbein Attorney At Law brings legal skill to your real estate license disputes. Licensed to practice law since 1982, Ronnie is recognized by her peers as AV Preeminent peer-review rated* through Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating. Call her today at 770-450-5117 or send her an email to arrange for a consultation.
*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards, and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.