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Last Update: 02/24/16

Real estate agents in Florida can do bad things that hurt both home buyers and sellers in serious ways. A buyer may end up with ugly surprises in her new home: things like hidden defects (e.g., mold) that was not disclosed prior to closing. The seller may be thwarted from selling their condo or townhouse at the highest price because they have an agent that is looking to move property fast rather than take the time to find the best deal for the owner.

 

We’ve considered many different ways in which bad or unethical real estate professionals end up facing legal claims presented by unhappy sellers, buyers, landlords, or tenants. See, for instance:

However, most of these problems have focused upon the bad acts and the real estate itself. Bad appraisals, failures to disclose, etc. Unfortunately, real estate agents and brokers also do bad things regarding not just the property involved, but the people, too. See, Jones v. Mayer Co.

Real estate agents discriminate, and they’ve done it for years.

So much so, that all sorts of federal and state laws are on the books to try and stop this terrible practice. Here is a list of some of the statutes that have been passed by Congress and the Florida Legislature to try and stop real estate agents from discriminating against people looking to buy a home or folk trying to sell real estate here:

Federal Laws

  • Civil Rights Act of 1866
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Civil Rights Act of 1968
  • Fair Housing Act of 1968 (and its amendments)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act

Florida Laws

  • Florida Fair Housing Law
  • Florida Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Implementation Act
  • Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Are You a Victim of Discrimination by a Florida Real Estate Agent?

In Florida, you may be a victim of discrimination by a Florida real estate professional for many different reasons including: your race, your religion, your sex, your national origin, your handicap, your familial status, or your age.

Tenants may face property managers who discriminate against them by denying them the chance to rent a condo or home, or by doing things like demanding excessive deposits or advance rents or in an improper eviction process.

Sellers may face real estate brokers or real estate agents that are discriminatory in advertising the property for sale or in choosing which potential buyers are shown the property for consideration.

Buyers may never be shown homes by discriminatory real estate agents in certain neighborhoods or condominiums and be unknowingly limited in their purchase options.

Tactics of Discrimination

Real estate agents cannot do things like: refuse to rent to someone; quote different terms to different people; or lie about a property being available. In fact, discrimination is such a problem with real estate professionals that there are nicknames for some of their most popular discriminatory practices, things like Racial Steering.

What is steering? This is still a very popular thing for real estate agents to do, even though it was first made illegal almost half a century ago in the federal Fair Housing Act. Here, the discrimination involves the real estate agent showing the potential buyer homes in neighborhoods where the majority of the current residents are their race.

Claims Against Real Estate Agents For Discrimination

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination by a real estate agent, then you may have legal claims for damages against them under federal and state discrimination laws as well as Florida contract laws and Florida real estate statutes regarding the property transaction itself.

For instance, a buyer who believes they may have been sold a shoddy home or condo in a certain neighborhood by a discriminatory real estate agent may be able to seek to have that contract rescinded as well as seeking damages against the real estate agent (and real estate brokerage). Tenants can move to be freed from discriminatory leases. Sellers can fight to be released from contracts with discriminatory real estate agencies and for damages if they can show they sold their property for less than its true value because of discriminatory intent by their real estate professional.

A good piece of advice when you and your family are purchasing or selling your family home in one of the biggest transactions of your life is to at least talk with a Florida real estate lawyer. Getting someone to review all of the paperwork including the all important promissory note, isn’t as costly as most of us think it is. And it’s always a lot cheaper than paying to fix a problem after a closing occurs.  Most real estate lawyers, like Larry Tolchinsky, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Larry an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

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