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Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal; What’s the Difference?

Spring Hill FL Real Estate SchoolHave you noticed an increasing number of animals in restaurants, stores and lodging facilities? Did you also notice that these animals are increasingly not limited to dogs? What are they, what do they do, and how are they protected under federal, state and local laws? If you are a business owner or landlord, are you even allowed to ask?

The National Association of Realtors wrote a White Paper Report on Fair Housing and the ADA. It states that according to the US Census Bureau, almost 1 in 5 people in the United States report having a disability and more than half of them are classified as severe. There are two separate federal laws that will be discussed in this post: The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 is administered and enforced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The FHA created “protected classes” and prohibited discrimination in residential housing based on race, color, religion, nationalHUD origin and sex. It was amended in 1988 to include handicap and family status, which includes pregnant women.

According to HUD handicap is defined as:

  • a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities (such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working).
  • a record of having such an impairment, or
  • being regarded as having such an impairment

Some examples of physical or mental impairments listed in a joint statement by
HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice include such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy,
muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled
substance) and alcoholism.

Examples of specific conditions that courts have held to constitute a handicap include:
• developmental disabilities
• multiple sclerosis
• mobility problems requiring the use of a cane or a cart for support and
• post-traumatic stress disorder.

Under Fair Housing laws, housing providers may not discriminate against persons with disabilities or refuse to allow “reasonable accommodations” that gives them equal enjoyment of the facilites, including common areas and public areas.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, expanding the rights and protections in employment, services, accommodations and telecommunications for DOJpersons with disabilites, which can be physical or psychological.  The ADA is not generally applied to housing, and is enforced by the US Department of Justice. A disability is defined in law as:

  •  a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major
    life activities of such individual
  • a record of such an impairment
  • being regarded as having such an impairment

The definition of “major Iife activities” defined by HUD also applies to the ADA. Although the ADA does not apply to residential housing units, it does apply to the areas of the complex that is open to the public.

Just as there are differences in the definitions and protections under the FHA versus the ADA, there are different definitions of the animal companions and protections under the law. The FHA requires reasonable accommodations for persons with handicaps and many need the assistance of an Assistance Animal to function at home and, if so, the housing provider  must allow the animal to live in the person’s residence. HUD’s definition of an Assistance Animal is not just limited to dogs; it states that any species may be an Assistance Animal. An animal that provides emotional support for a person with a diagnosis is allowed to live with them if that support is related to a person’s disability.

Persons with disabilities under the ADA have the right to have a Service Animal accompany them in public places. the ADA defines a service animal as a dog trained to accomplish a specific function related to a person’s disability.  Dogs providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind are all examples of the functions of a Service Animal.

Any facility, either governmental, non-profit, or business that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate disabled persons. This includes allowing Service Animals into the facilities, even if they have a No Pet policy. If there is a question about the validity of the claim of a Service Animal, the only two questions allowable to ask are

  •  is the dog a service animal required because of a disability
  • what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. The revised ADA regulations allow miniature horses if they have been trained to perform tasks for a person with disabilities. For more information do to

 Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Port Richey and Inverness Florida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes. Feel free to call with any questions at 352-650-1029 Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.

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Is the LBGT Community protected under the Federal Fair Housing Laws?

NCRESlogo (2) editedAccording to an April 15, 2019 Time Magazine article “polls show that most Americans oppose discrimination against LBGT people. Many believe it is already illegal” but it is not. Many LBGT have shied away from home ownership due to the fear of persecution in neighborhoods, and federal laws don’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The high ratio of LGBTs concerned about some aspect of housing discrimination is alarming and demonstrates the importance of our organization’s continued legislative and advocacy work on behalf of the consumer,” says Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.LBGT flag

According to a REALTOR® magazine article, Survey statistics show that up to 73% of of the 1,700 LGBT respondents surveyed expressed significant concern about housing discrimination both when buying and renting. The respondents worried about discrimintation by home sellers, real estate licensees, landlords, lenders, property management firms, and neighbors.

Some municipalities have passed laws that protect the LBGT community, but efforts to pass federal laws have been introduced and failed since the 1970s when laws began being introduced to protect sexual orientation. Currently the Equality Act is working its way through the US House of Representatives, but even if passed, it still must also pass in the Senate and be signed bby the President.

Realtor 2The National Assocation of REALTORS® (NAR), America’s largest trade Organization, representing over 1.2 million members and is considered “The Voice of Real Estate”, supports these efforts, and NAR President John Smaby said in a statement “REALTORS® have worked for [nearly] a decade to ensure the American dream of homeownership is not unfairly denied to those in the LGBT community.”

REALTORS® subscribe to the NAR Code of Ethics as a condition of membership and the NAR Code of Ethics prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013. Article 10 of the Code of Ethics reads:

Article 10
Realtors® shall not deny equal professional services to any person
for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status,
national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Realtors® shall not
be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or
persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status,
national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)

This demonstrates the importance of using a REALTOR® when purchasing a home, not just a Real Estate licensee, as the terms are not synonymous. The NAR works to raise the level of professionalism in its membership and each member takes an oath to follow the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

 Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Port Richey and Inverness Florida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes. Feel free to call with any questions at 352-650-1029 Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.

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Are Florida Real Estate Licenses Reciprocal with other States?

NCRESlogo (2) editedI frequently get asked the question about reciprocity from licensees in other states who are moving to Florida and want to practice Real Estate here.  Unfortunately for them, the answer is no. We do, however, recognize the education and experience of Real Estate Professonals in other states and offer some concessions for those looking to get a Florida license from another state.

Florida has Mutual Recognition Agreements with eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska and Rhode Island. Florida has a separate agreement with each of the states and they are exempt from taking the laptop_online_literature_400_wht_17113pre-licensing education course provided they are a non resident applicant. Instead, they are required to pass a written Florida-specific real estate law examination. The exam consists of 40 questions of 1 point in value per question. A grade of 30 points or higher must be achieved to pass the exam. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has compiled a Candidate Information Booklet to assist in the process. These agreements also ensure that Florida licensees have equal opportunity for licensure in those jurisdictions with which agreements are concluded.

The education is waived for the pre-licensing education only. All applicants must have obtained the Real Estate license by having met the education and examination requirements of the state with which Florida has mutual recognition. Once they have obtained a Florida Real Estate sales associate or broker license, they are subject to Florida’s renewal requirements. Prior to the initial expiration date listed on the license, they are required to complete post-license education. (45 hours Post-pile of booksEducation for Sales Associates and 60 hours Post-Education for Brokers). Each subsequent biannual renewal period they are required to complete 14 hours of continuing education.  If the candidate has a Broker license in the home state,  the licensee must have held an active broker’s or sales associate’s license for at least 24 months during the preceding five years.

The candidate is required to make application through the DBPR, either online or a printed application and electronic fingerprints are required through an approved Livescan device vendor. Candidates are required to provide a Certification of Licensing History from the Real Estate Commission in the state where the license is held along with the application and fee. 

Acquiring a real estate license through mutual recognition is available EXCLUSIVELY to Non Resident applicants. If licensed in one of the above mentioned state and living in Florida, the licensee is considered a Florida Resident and mustflorida_seal make application and do the required education as such. 

If licensees from all other states are required to apply for a Florida license as any other candidate.  If however they have at least two years active experience in the past five years, the candidate can bypass the sales associate license and apply directly for a Florida broker license. 

Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Port Richey and Inverness Florida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes. Feel free to call with any questions at 352-650-1029 Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.

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Can a FL Real Estate Team Get Paid in the Team Name?

Nature Coast Real Estate SchoolForming a Real Estate Team within a Real Estate Brokerage is now an established business practice in Florida.  There are many benefits to this concept; the licensee forming the team can leverage his/her efforts through duplication.  When  licensees finds they are doing all they can and there is still more business coming then they can handle, it is time to find an assistant, then a buyer’s agent and a team is born. How it grows from there depends on the financial and business goals of the team.

Each person on the team, if it is operating at full potential, is doing the tasks for which they are best suited. There are behavioral assessments that assist in determining where to place a person joining the team so that it runs efficiently, maximizing the talents of each member. This can increase sales volume and profit and has many benefits for all the careers involved.

One of the frequently asked questions when starting a team within a brokerage is how to get paid?  If you have formed an Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Professional Association (PA) for tax purposes, which is perfectly legal in Florida for sales associates and broker associates, you can be paid by your broker as such but only after all of the steps have been accomplished.

The first step is to form the entity through the Florida Department of State. An Sunbizattorney or accountant can assist you with the process.  Once you have formed the entity IN YOUR LEGAL NAME only, as Florida sales associates and broker associates MAY NOT BE LICENSED AS A TRADE NAME, the next step is to notify the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

The DBPR must be notified of the formation of the entity so that the license can be reissued in legal name of the licensee with the appropriate entity designation.  This dbpr logois accomplshed by filing form RE 16 with the appropriate fee  and providing proof of the Department of State Registration. ONLY AFTER THE DBPR HAS ISSUED THE LICENSE IN THE NAME OF THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION CAN THE BROKER LEGALLY PAY THE LICENSEE UNDER THAT NAME.

This last step is frequently omitted, which could create liability for the Broker and the Associate.  Florida Statute 475.161 clearly states the criteria required for payment to be compliant under Florida Law. A Florida broker may only pay the person/entity as they are licensed.

Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Port Richey and Inverness Florida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes. Feel free to call with any questions at 352-650-1029 Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.

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Background Check for a Florida Real Estate License

NCRESlogo (2) editedI frequently have prospective licensees call to inquire about the process of getting a Florida Real Estate License. When I mention the fingerprinting and background check, it opens an entire line of questions about prior indiscretions and how it may affect a license approval.

As a part of the application process, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) requires a candidate/applicant must submit fingerprints electronically.  The fingerprints are sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to check for criminal history.FDLE

The DBPR prefers that the applicant’s fingerprints be submitted at least five days before applying.  If the application is received before the fingerprints, the application is considered incomplete until the fingerprints are submitted. 

Livescan is the vendor approved for electronic fingerprinting by the FDLE.  Some county sheriff’s offices offer electronic fingerprinting and Pearson VUE testing center.  An ORI code is required; for Real Estate Sales and Brokers the code is FL920010Z. FL Livescan

If an applicant has a conviction, pled guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) of a crime, even if adjudication was withheld, the DBPR wants all details. This includes arrest reports, sentencing and conditions, dispostion and conditions.  These should be attached to the application.

If the above information is too old to be provided, the applicant must send proof that they sent a certified letter to the court requesting the required documentation for a license application. If the applicant is on probation, the probation offer should write a letter stating the status of probation.

For out of state applicants with a criminal history, contact the attorney who represented them as well as ask the court for the required documentation.

The Division of Real Estate (DRE) will flag an application that has a criminal history and the list of applicants (SOA) is reviewed by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) each month at their monthly meeting.  the FREC recommends that the applicant provide at least three letters of recommendation along with their application. One may be a family member; the other two should be non-relatives who can provide a character reference.

At the FREC monthly meeting, the members review the SOA list and decide whether to approve the application or must appear before the Commission.

When in doubt, DISCLOSE! Do not assume the records have been expunged without verifying.  It is better to disclose and not have needed to than have one’s business_punched_through_screen_400_clr_21672application denied or license revoked because it was obtained by fraud due to lack of disclosure.

Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill, Port Richey, and Inverness Florida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes.  Feel free to call with any questions at 352-650-1029 Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.

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Newly Licensed Florida Brokers and Sales Associates: Rule Change

Spring Hill FL real Estate SchoolIf you are in your initial licensing period as a Florida Real Estate Broker or Sales Associate, congratulations on achieving an important milestone in your career.  You are aware that during this licensing period you have additional required education.  

If you are a newly licensed sales associate, you have to take a 45 hour Post Licensing Course.  This course offers a vital and practical step by step process to launch a successful career. This is particulary helpful if you chose to work for a smaller company that does not offer training programs.laptop_online_literature_400_wht_17113

So often I hear from students in this class how they regret that they waited until the last possible course offering before enrolling in this course.  The students regret that they lost many transactions because they did not know the required information to save the deal.  Furthermore, they are stressed and anxious because if they do not pass the final exam with a 75, they are in jeopardy of losing their license.  Why? Because under the former rule, if you did not pass the final exam you had to wait 30 days and take a different version of the test.  Why could that be an issue? Because they didn’t have 30 days before their license went NULL and VOID! What a tragedy.  That means listings taken and contracts written could not be completed since the licensee was no longer in the business! That is so unnecessary and very sad.

I have had new Brokers (who are owners of their firm) reach out to me because they also procrastinated.  The Broker Post Licensing requirements are 60 hours but are actually two 30 hour courses.  The Broker Management Course is so beneficial to new Broker/Owners of Real Estate companies for the same reason the 45 hour course is relevant for new licensees; it offers a step by step guide on how to open and operate a brokerage firm.  Many people who get the Broker License are not ready or not even sure they want to open a brokerage firm but want the credibility and knowledge from the Broker Course.  The Investment Course is so educational and informative to bring the licensee to the next level of production, whether they open an office or not.


So what happens if you are a new Broker and you did not complete (that means pass the final) the required 60 hours of Post Licensing? You LOSE your Broker license and have to request that your Sales Associate License be reinstated.  If you are the Broker of record for your firm this is a serious issue. Why? Because of procrastination. Unnecessary and very sad. 

Drumroll…..the Real Estate Commission has eliminated the required 30 day wait period to retake the exam and you have the opportunity to retest when you feel ready.  Still, this is not the best way to run your business, regardless of which license you earned.  This is your business, and to be successful you have to treat it like a business.

It is your license, your business, your choice.  Choose wisely and get that competitive edge in your real estate business.

Nature Coast Real Estate School offers live classroom and online courses in Brooksville, Spring Hill and Port RicheyFlorida. Check out our website at for the full schedule of classes.  Be sure to read our reviews on Google before making your choice of Real Estate Schools.


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Welcome New Instructor Tanya Eldert

Spring Hill FL Real Estate SchoolNature Coast Real Estate School proudly welcomes the newest addition to our faculty, Tanya Eldert and our new campus at Holiday Towers, 2435 US Highway 19 Ste 550, Holiday FL. We will be offering Live Pre and Post Licensing classes, and Exam Prep weekend courses at our new location. Tanya brings a wealth of Real Estate and Technology experience to her students. A bit more about Tanya….Tanya Pic medium (1)

Tanya Eldert is Broker Associate and a Founding member and Jr. Partner of Realty Partners.  She has been working in management and marketing for over 25 years, including over 13 years running her own marketing agency that supported and taught real estate professionals.  In 2003 she started working with real estate agents to assist them in getting started on the internet, she also worked with an Emmy winning producer to take the first steps into integrating video with home sales and taught agents classes on how to merge ‘new technology’ with traditional marketing methods.

laptop_online_literature_400_wht_17113After moving to Florida Tanya got her real estate license and quickly started a team.  Over the next few years she was invited onto the Greater Tampa REALTORS Association Technology committee and taught a variety of classes such as CRMs and Lead Conversion classes. She currently serves on the West Pasco Board of REALTORS Education Committee and teaches marketing classes. Tanya received her Senior Real Estate Specialist with the National Association of Realtors and is a member of the Trinity Odessa Toastmasters Club.
Tanya is currently the CEO of the Real Estate Help Team LLC, which provides agents with transaction and administrative services; and continues her marketing support services by running the Synergy Business Network inc.
Family is very important to Tanya, and she and her husband Michael homeschool their daughter.  To give back to the community, Tanya is a co-leader of a Girl Scout troop and Michael is an Assistant District Commissioner to the Boy Scouts.  Their other volunteer activities have included: Tanya being a hotline volunteer and victim advocate for assault and domestic violence for 15 years and Michael volunteered over 20 years in EMS and fire.  The whole family helps with dog rescue and has taken helped in fostering and fundraising for 16 years.
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