Filing a Complaint
Making a phone call to the Division of Real Estate is not a “quick fix” or a “get out of the contract right now” solution. In order for us to investigate a complaint, we need a written complaint, completed on the Division’s Complaint Form. Supporting documentation validating the allegations must also be included. Documentation needs to be submitted through our website realestate.utah.gov.
Evaluating a Complaint
Once a complaint is received and reviewed, it will be assigned to an investigator. The investigator will contact the Complainant within 10 days of the assignment, by email or telephone. They will introduce themselves and provide contact information for future communications. The investigator may also request a personal interview and additional documentation.
The investigator will then review the complaint. They will usually provide a copy of the complaint to the Respondent. The investigator will also request a written statement concerning the allegations and a copy of the property transaction file. The transaction file should include a full production of records. This even means all email and text correspondence. The Respondent has 10 business days to provide the requested documents to the investigator. Once the investigator receives the documents from the Respondent, they will prepare an action plan to gather pertinent evidence to determine the validity of the complaint. This fact-gathering phase may include telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews, email correspondence, field visits, accessing digital record repositories, and retrieving records from title companies, banks, mortgage companies, appraisal companies, etc.
Once the investigator complies all the evidence, it will be evaluated, and weighed for vindicating, aggravating, and mitigating factors. The investigator will write up a report with a thorough analysis of the evidence gathered and identify any possible violations. The Lead Investigator will receive the report if no apparent violations are found and no warning letter will be issued. The case will be forwarded to the Chief Investigator for review if possible violations are identified.
If the Lead Investigator (no violations or warning letter issued) agrees with the investigator’s recommendations, the report is forwarded to the Director for approval to close the case. If the Director approves the decision, the investigator will notify both the Complainant and the Respondent that the case is closed.
Moving Forward with a Complaint
When the investigation identifies possible violations, the Chief Investigator will approve the case to move forward. The investigator will then notify the Respondent. The investigator will also issue a “Findings Letter” with the results of the investigation. This includes possible violations with suggested penalties. The Respondent has 10 days from this notice to select one of two options: settlement by Stipulation or a Hearing in front of the Commission or Board.
Settlement by Stipulation
The terms of a settlement by Stipulation must be agreed to by both the Division and the Respondent. An Assistant Attorney General or Analyst will write it up and present it in front of the Commission or Board for approval. The Commission or Board may reject or approve a settlement by Stipulation. If Commission or Board approval is given, the respondent is notified. The agreed-upon penalty will then be assessed with instructions on how to proceed with payment of penalties, completion of continuing education, and any license sanctions.
Settlement by Hearing
If the Respondent selects the Hearing option, the Respondent or their legal counsel is given the opportunity to present their defense in front of the Commission or Board at an upcoming meeting. The Division will be represented by an Assistant Attorney General or Analyst. They will present their investigative findings. The Respondent will be notified of the decision once a written order is reviewed and approved.
Resolving a Case
After the Division resolves the case, the matter could potentially be referred to the Attorney General’s office if there appears to be possible criminal conduct.
Our process for investigations is lengthy. It can stretch from months to years depending on the complexity of the case. We are careful to conduct a thorough investigation throughout the complaint process.
We appreciate the opportunity to share why the “lifecycle of a complaint” takes contemplative time.