Make us your home page

Legislators: Regulators have not asked for money to hire more investigators

Florida regulators repeatedly blame the Legislature for not being able to hire more investigators and lawyers to tackle the backlog in investigations of unscrupulous real estate professionals.

The problem: Those regulators have not asked legislators to stop sweeping money from trust funds that would pay for more employees.

Legislators are baffled.

"If they don't tell us they need the money, how are we supposed to know?" asked State Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, a longtime Realtor in southwest Florida. "No one has come forward."

The Legislature has emptied $9.7 million from a Division of Real Estate trust fund since 2008 to help with state budget shortfalls. Real estate license fees and fines go into the trust fund, not tax dollars. The fees and fines are paid by the more than 300,000 industry workers.

State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said he doesn't understand why regulators have remained silent, adding: "I am not aware of anyone asking not to cut any further."

Ken Lawson, who heads the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the parent agency of the Division of Real Estate, would not say why the agency hasn't asked legislators to stop sweeping money.

"The sweeps are outside of the purview of the department," said Lawson, who took the job in May.

Lawson pledged to reduce complaints and lengthy investigations. But when asked if the agency requested more money for investigators in next year's budget, he said, "I don't think so."

As complaints and investigations await review, the lag allows shoddy real estate practitioners to harm even more consumers.

Members of the Florida Real Estate Commission, the body that disciplines real estate professionals, have repeatedly said leaving just $1 million in the trust fund would allow investigators and lawyers to be hired on contract for several years to cut into the backlog.

Roger Enzor, a 42-year real estate veteran, is urging DBPR officials to ask the Legislature for smaller sweeps.

"We'd be able to fund the enforcement," he said. "We could get rid of this backlog."

Chip Boring, a 32-year Realtor, said enforcement is one of the biggest issues facing industry members. He'd like to see more lobbying of the Legislature by the Florida Realtors on the money sweeps.

"One bad apple ruins it for all of us," he said. "'This is something that needs to be addressed."

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at

Legislators: Regulators have not asked for money to hire more investigators 11/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2011 6:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Appointments at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and the Straz Center highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell its new chief executive officer, effective Oct. 16. Selected by the Y's CEO Search Committee following a five-month search, Mitchell will succeed Tom Looby, who is retiring. Looby has served the Y Movement for 37 years, the past 10 …

    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell as its new Chief Executive Officer. [Handout photo]
  2. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  3. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  4. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  5. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba


    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]