Brokers breaking law could face severe penalties

When I wrote about proposed new advertising rules for real estate brokers, I was unable to find specific penalties.

Now Whitney A. Clark of the Department of State has enlightened me with a response to my search for answers, and the good news is that virtually all violations of New York Real Property Law can produce the same costly punishments.

According to Article 12-A of the Real Property Law (section 441-c), the range of penalties spans the following:

  • License revocation;
  • License suspension “for such period as the department may deem proper;”
  • Or a fine up to $1,000;
  • Or a reprimand “upon conviction of the licensee of a violation of any provision of this article.”

Other covered offenses include material misstatement on the license application, plus a guilty finding of fraud or for “dishonest or misleading advertising.”

That’s not all: The penalties may be imposed for any licensee who has “demonstrated untrustworthiness or incompetency to act as a real estate broker or salesperson.”

With regard to the foregoing sentence, the law goes on to define the offenses as follows:

In the case of a real estate broker engaged in the business of a tenant relocator, untrustworthiness or incompetency shall include engaging in any course of conduct including, but not limited to, the interruption or discontinuance of essential building service, that interferes with or disturbs the peace, comfort, repose and quiet enjoyment of a tenant.”

Although a $1,000 fine is not all that burdensome in the scheme of things, losing a license means losing a livelihood — an enormous incentive to heed the law.  So one would think.

Yet I cannot be alone in witnessing how often real estate licensees flout the law.  That they do so with such widespread impunity galls me, especially with regard to assertions in advertising and other marketing initiatives.

Violations undoubtedly offend consumers as well, if our reputation for integrity is any indication.

Given my own indignation about the practices that I frequently encounter, I thought it appropriate to share at length here the potential consequences faced by brokers who break the law.

If only more of us were caught and punished. . .

Tomorrow: Star gazers

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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