(a) The commission shall establish and maintain a Recovery Fund from which an aggrieved party may recover actual or compensatory damages, not including interest and court costs, sustained only within the State of Alabama as a result of conduct of a broker or salesperson in violation of Article 1 or 2 of this chapter or the rules and regulations of the commission.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, payments from the Recovery Fund are subject to the following conditions and limitations:
(1) The fund shall not be obligated for the acts or omissions of a broker or salesperson while acting on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his or her child, spouse, or parent regarding property in which he or she or his or her spouse, child, or parent has, or is attempting to acquire, an interest; or for the acts or omissions of an inactive licensee; or for the acts or omissions of a corporation, branch office, or partnership except through its licensed salespersons and brokers as individuals. The fund shall not be obligated for any judgment or settlement resulting from an act or omission of a broker or salesperson committed in conjunction with the marketing or development of a time-sharing project.
(2) Payments for claims based on judgments or settlements against any one person shall not exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in the aggregate.
(3) Payments for claims arising out of the same transaction shall not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) in the aggregate, regardless of the number of claimants.
(4) The fund shall not be liable for payments to a licensee or bonding company unless the licensee or bonding company was a principal party to a real estate transaction on which the judgment was based.
(c)(1) When any person makes application for an original license as a broker or salesperson, he or she shall pay, in addition to all other fees, a fee of thirty dollars ($30) for deposit in the Recovery Fund. In the event the commission does not issue the license, this fee shall be returned to the applicant.
(2) Any salesperson licensee who has paid the additional fee and who has attained a broker license and has paid the additional broker fee shall be refunded, upon request, one of the additional fees and no other salesperson licensee shall be required to pay an additional fee upon attaining broker status.
(3) Payments made to the Recovery Fund in lieu of bond by a licensee shall be paid only one time when he or she is originally licensed by the commission.
(d) When the balance remaining in the Recovery Fund is less than five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000), each broker and salesperson shall on order of the commission pay a fee of thirty dollars ($30) per license for deposit in the Recovery Fund. A licensee on inactive status shall not be required to contribute to the fund at that time. A fee of thirty dollars ($30) shall be paid at the time a license is activated.
(e)(1) When an aggrieved person commences an action for a judgment which may result in collection from the Recovery Fund, the aggrieved person shall notify the commission in writing, by certified mail, return receipt requested, to this effect at the time of the commencement of the action.
(2) When the commission receives the notice described in subdivision (e)(1), it may enter an appearance, file pleadings and motions, appear at court hearings, defend the action, or take whatever other action it deems appropriate either on the behalf and in the name of the defendant, or in its own name. The commission may also take any appropriate method of review either on behalf and in the name of the defendant, or in its own name. The commission may settle or compromise the claim. Any expenses incurred by the commission in defending, satisfying, or settling any claim shall be paid from the Recovery Fund.
(3) When an aggrieved person recovers a valid judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction against a broker or salesperson on the grounds described in subsection (a) above, which occurred on or after October 1, 1979, the aggrieved person may, on the termination of all proceedings, including reviews and appeals in connection with the judgment, file a verified claim in the court in which the judgment was entered and, on 10 days' written notice to the commission, may apply to the court for an order directing payment out of the Recovery Fund of the amount unpaid on the judgment.
(4) The court shall proceed on the application immediately and, on hearing, the aggrieved person shall be required to show each of the following:
a. He or she is not the spouse, child, or parent of the debtor, or the personal representative of the spouse, child, or parent.
b. He or she has obtained a judgment, as described in subdivision (e)(3), stating the amount of the judgment and the amount owing on the judgment at the date of the application, and, that in the action, he or she had joined any and all bonding companies which issued corporate surety bonds to the judgment debtor as principal and all other necessary parties.
c. The following items, if recovered by him or her, have been applied to the actual compensatory damages awarded by the court:
1. Any amount recovered from the judgment creditor.
2. Any amount recovered from bonding companies.
3. Any amount recovered in out-of-court settlements.
(5) The court shall order that the Recovery Fund pay whatever sum it finds due under this section.
(6) Should the commission pay from the Recovery Fund any amount in settlement of a claim or toward satisfaction of a judgment against a licensee, all licenses of the licensee may be terminated by the commission. The commission may refuse to issue a new license to the former licensee until he or she has repaid in full, plus interest at the rate of 12 percent a year, the amount paid from the Recovery Fund. A discharge in bankruptcy shall not relieve a person from the penalties and disabilities provided in this section.
(7) If the balance in the Recovery Fund is insufficient to satisfy a duly authorized claim or portion of a claim, the commission shall, when sufficient money has been deposited in the Recovery Fund, satisfy the unpaid claims or portions, plus interest at the rate of 12 percent a year in the order that the claims were originally filed.
(f) The sums received by the commission pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the State Treasury and held in a special fund to be known as the Real Estate Recovery Fund, and shall be held by the commission in trust for carrying out the purposes of the Recovery Fund. These sums may be invested by the State Treasurer in any investments which are legal for domestic life insurance companies under the laws of this state. Any interest or other income from investments of the Recovery Fund shall be deposited in the Real Estate Commission Revenue Fund with one-half being transmitted to the University of Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center.
(g) The commission may transfer funds one time only from the Real Estate Recovery Fund to the University of Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center. The amount of the transfer may not reduce the Real Estate Recovery Fund below six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000).
(h) When, on order of the court, the commission has paid from the Recovery Fund any sum, the commission shall be subrogated to all the rights of the judgment creditor, and all his or her right, title, and interest in the judgment, to the extent of the amount paid from the Recovery Fund, shall be assigned to the commission. Any amount and interest recovered by the commission on the judgment shall be deposited to the fund.
(i) The failure of an aggrieved person to strictly comply with all of the provisions of this section shall constitute a waiver of any rights under this section.
(j) Each licensee shall notify the commission within 10 days after notice to him or her of the institution of any criminal prosecution against him or her, or of a civil summons and complaint against him or her, if the subject matter of the civil complaint involves a real estate transaction or involves the goodwill of an existing real estate business. The notification shall be in writing by certified mail and shall include a copy of the summons and complaint. If a criminal charge is made, it shall include the specific charge made against the licensee together with a copy of any indictment or information alleging the charges.
(k) Each licensee shall notify the commission in writing by certified mail within 10 days after he or she receives notice that any criminal verdict has been rendered against him or her, or that a criminal action pending against him or her has been dismissed, or that a civil action in which he or she was a defendant and which involved a real estate transaction or the goodwill of a real estate business has resulted in a judgment or been dismissed. The notification shall be in writing and shall include a copy of the court order or other document giving the licensee notice.
Last modified: May 3, 2021