California Department of Real Estate: Complaint Handling

Regulation and compliance with laws are essential to maintaining integrity and ethics in all transactions. The Department of Real Estate or DRE plays a crucial role in this process, including handling complaints filed by the public regarding possible violations of the Real Estate Law or the Subdivided Lands Law by of licensees or subdividers. In this article, we will explore how the DRE handles these complaints and conducts investigations and disciplinary actions when necessary.


Complaints are formal statements submitted in writing by members of the public. These complaints allege possible violations of the Real Estate Law or the Parceled Land Law by licensees or subdividers. These complaints are an important mechanism for consumers to express concerns about the conduct or practices of professionals in the real estate industry. Complaints can address a wide variety of issues, from deceptive sales practices to problems with property documentation.


Investigations related to complaints are carried out by two main sections within the DRE: the Compliance Section (Enforcement) and the Audits Section (Audits). When a complaint is received, the DRE begins an investigation to determine if there is support for the allegations presented. These investigations may include interviews with all parties involved, review of related documentation, and other evidence collection methods.

If an investigation validates a violation of real estate laws, the Department may take formal disciplinary action. These actions may include:

  • Suspension or revocation of a license.
  • Issuance of a restricted license.
  • Filing of an Order to Desist and Refrain.
  • In some serious cases, violations may result in additional legal action, such as civil penalties, criminal prosecutions, or substantial fines.


When disciplinary action is taken, such as issuing a citation, the licensee has specific rights regarding the hearing process. Here are the key steps in this process:

  • The licensee has 30 days from receipt of a subpoena to send a notice of intent to request a hearing. If such notice is not sent, the summons becomes final.
  • The Commissioner's designee has 60 days to convene a review conference and announce a decision to confirm or modify the citation.
  • After receiving the post-conference notice, the licensee has an additional 30 days to request a formal hearing. Otherwise, the decision becomes final.
  • Hearings are conducted in accordance with the Government Code.


Once the review is completed, the Commissioner may apply to the appropriate court for a ruling to enforce his or her decision. This means that if disciplinary action has been taken, the Commissioner has the power to ensure that the decision is enforced, which may include suspension or revocation of a license.


Under the California Code of Regulations (CCR), an appeals procedure is established for individuals or entities cited for a violation. Within the 30 days later Upon receipt of a subpoena, the subpoenaed individual or entity may contest the subpoena by submitting written notice to the Commissioner indicating the intent to request a formal hearing.

Complaint handling is an essential component of the California DRE's work. Through rigorous investigations and fair hearing procedures, DRE works to ensure that violations of real estate laws are appropriately addressed and that consumers are protected in the process. This regulatory system is critical to maintaining trust and integrity in the state's real estate industry.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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