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So You Didn’t Renew Your Real Estate License

By: Hank Lerner, Esq. on in

So… now what?

If you are among the 85-90%+ of real estate licensees who successfully renewed your license on or before Aug. 29, congratulations! You can look forward to another two years of successful real estate practice (well…21 months, really, since PAR secured a 90-day extension of the deadline).

But if you’re one of the licensees who is not able to renew by the deadline, where does that leave you? Here are the cold, hard facts:

  • There will be no further deadline extensions from the state.
    • PAR advocated for the 90-day extension from May 31 to Aug. 29, but the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs has been clear that they believe this should have been sufficient time for licensees to take care of their renewals.
  • If your license is not renewed, it is expired. If you’re a broker, it also means all of the agents affiliated with your brokerage are expired.
  • If your license is expired, you cannot practice real estate – it’s illegal.
    • Seriously, read that last one again.
  • An expired license cannot be reactivated within PALS. The reactivation application is a PDF that must be filled out and mailed to the commission (use the one for reactivation with a non-current activation date, since the license is now expired).

At this point, you may be saying “but I have a special case – the only reason I didn’t renew is that there was a problem with PALS.” There may be a limited opportunity for individuals to get special dispensation, but those will be few and far between.

In the last renewal cycle (2018-20), there were a number of systemic data issues causing problems for licensees. PAR has been working with the bureau staff to track down issues over the past few months, and those sorts of broad-based problems are not present this time through. There have definitely been individual problems traced to the database, but the reality is that most problems are some version of user error – lost passwords, incorrect email addresses, licenses not properly associated with brokerage accounts and the like.

The bureau has indicated that if there are scenarios in which a licensee has been stymied because of a system issue, or if there have been extensive customer service difficulties in trying so solve a renewal problem, there is an opportunity to request individual waivers to accommodate their issues. But the hurdles will be high. While PAR cannot predict the outcome of any particular request, indications have been that – especially with the 90-day extension that’s already been provided – the state is unlikely to have a positive response to requesters who did not start the renewal process until shortly before the deadline, or to those whose issues are based on problems that were fully within the scope of the licensee (like lost passwords, etc.).

Even if you believe you should be eligible for a waiver, however, keep in mind that unless and until one is requested and granted (which could take several months, since it is likely that they may need to be addressed individually by the State Real Estate Commission at meetings that only occur every six weeks), your license is still expired. A waiver might remove penalties for unlicensed practice if granted, but if the waiver is not granted you (and your broker) would be at risk for sanctions based on your unlicensed practice. If your license was not successfully renewed, talk with your broker and brokerage counsel before taking any next steps.

Trial Result Could Impact Pennsylvania Real Estate Activity

PAR has been tracking Ladd v. State Real Estate Commission since it was originally filed in 2018. Though the case had previously been dismissed by the Commonwealth Court, on May 19, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a decision reviving the case and sending it back to proceed to trial. The final outcome of the case could impact the licensing requirement for those engaging in Pennsylvania real estate activity.

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