Court rules unlicensed man was employed to perform real estate activities
The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed an administrative law judge’s decision that Nijjar Realty, Inc. employed and compensated an unlicensed individual to perform real estate activities in breach of section 10137 of the Real Estate Law.
In the case of Miller et al. v. California Department of Real Estate, Nijjar and its real estate broker operated a mobile home park. The Department of Real Estate brought a claim alleging that Nijjar breached the Real Estate Law when it employed and compensated Jose Rodriguez, an unlicensed person, to represent the seller of mobile homes in three lease-to-own agreements with tenants or buyers.
An administrative law judge issued a proposed order revoking Nijjar’s and its broker’s licenses upon ruling that Nijjar violated the law. The judge found that Nijjar operated and managed the Four J’s Trailer Park, hired Rodriguez as the park’s on-site manager, and employed and compensated him though he was not licensed to perform real estate activities as required by the Real Estate Law.
The Department of Real Estate adopted the administrative law judge’s decision. Nijjar and its broker filed a petition alleging that the administrative law judge wrongly ruled that Nijjar violated the Real Estate Law because the contracts were leases and not sales agreements and because the law did not ban an unlicensed person from accepting lease agreements on its behalf.
The trial court denied the petition. It decided that the administrative law judge did not consider any improper evidence and that Nijjar and its broker violated the applicable law. Nijjar and its broker appealed.
The California Court of Appeal for the Second District affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision. The appellate court determined that substantial evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Nijjar violated the Real Estate Law.
The appellate court ruled that Rodriguez’s employment agreement reflected that Nijjar paid him to act as the manager of Four J’s Trailer Park. Rodriguez admitted to an investigator for the Department of Housing and Community Development that Nijjar employed him as the park’s manager, that he did not have a license issued by the Department of Real Estate or by the Department of Housing and Community Development, and that Nijjar paid him a bonus for leasing the park’s mobile homes.
The appellate court noted that the Department of Real Estate introduced three agreements that Rodriguez executed with a tenant or buyer on Nijjar’s behalf, in which Nijjar leased a mobile home to the tenant or buyer and appeared to grant the tenant or buyer an option to purchase the mobile home for a specified purchase price. There was no question that, regardless of whether Rodriguez actually sold mobile homes, he offered to sell them, the appellate court said.