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The Florida Senate

2005 Florida Statutes

Section 475.452, Florida Statutes 2005

475.452  Advance fees; deposit; accounting; penalty; damages.--

(1)  It is unlawful for any broker to contract for or collect any advance fee for the listing of real property from any principal without depositing 75 percent of such amount, when collected, in a trust account with a bank or other recognized depository located and doing business in this state. Such funds shall be held as trust funds and may not be commingled with the funds of the broker who has collected the fee. Prior to the withdrawal of any fees from the trust account, the broker shall furnish a statement to the principal itemizing how the advance fees are to be expended and the amounts thereof. Amounts may be withdrawn for the benefit of the broker only when actually expended for the benefit of the principal or 5 days after verified accounts have been mailed to the principal. If the listed property is not sold within the period of time specified in the broker's contract or within 18 months after the contract date, whichever period is shorter, any funds held by the broker in the trust account shall be refunded to the principal, together with a final accounting relating to any or all funds expended by the broker.

(2)  The commission may adopt such rules as are necessary to regulate the method of accounting to be complied with by all brokers in relation to advance fees for the listing of real property. Such rules shall include, but need not be limited to, the establishing of forms for, and information to be included in, such accountings.

(3)  Each broker shall furnish each principal a verified copy of such accountings at the end of each calendar quarter, when the contract has been completely performed by the broker, and at any other time deemed appropriate by the commission. The commission shall be furnished a verified copy of any account or all accounts upon its demand therefor.

(4)  Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083

(5)  In addition to any other penalties provided for in this section, the principal in any advance-fee transaction for the listing of real property, which transaction is in violation of the provisions of this section, may recover treble damages for any funds misapplied and shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees in any action to recover such funds.

(6)  This section does not apply to a real estate broker auctioning real property if in advance of the auction the broker and seller have entered into a written agreement specifically providing for anticipated expenses to be incurred and paid. However, any trust funds received by the broker in advance of the auction may not be disbursed or otherwise used as an advance commission or fee for services without first having complied with the provisions of this subsection.

History.--s. 1, ch. 76-84; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 4, ch. 77-355; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 30, 42, ch. 79-239; s. 353, ch. 81-259; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 29, 38, ch. 82-1; ss. 19, 28, 30, ch. 88-20; s. 107, ch. 91-224; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 16, ch. 98-250.