The Texas Appraiser & Licensing Certification Board (TALCB) licenses and regulates different types of appraisers, including appraiser trainees, licensed residential appraisers, certified residential appraisers, certified general appraisers, appraiser continuing education providers, temporary non-resident appraiser registrations and appraisal management companies. These professionals can face disciplinary proceedings concerning their licenses if TALCB receives complaints against them and finds that they have violated the rules or laws that apply to them. Since the repercussions of these proceedings can be severe, contacting an experienced Texas appraiser license defense lawyer should be your first step if you receive notice of a complaint against you.
The TALCB Complaint Process
TALCB receives complaints from the public, TALCB staff members, and TALCB board members concerning the appraisers and related professionals that it licenses and regulates. The agency only handles complaints concerning violations of the relevant provisions of the Texas Occupations Code and TALCB Rules. For instance, TALCB has no authority over disputes solely about appraised values or business practices, or disputes with property tax professionals or consultants that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation licenses.
Stages of the Complaint Process
The TALCB complaint process has five separate stages, as follows:
- A party submits the complaint to TALCB.
- TALCB reviews the complaint to determine whether TALCB has authority over the complaint; if so, TALCB sends the complaint to the appraisal service provider for a response.
- The investigations team performs an investigation to determine whether the appraisal service provider committed a violation of a rule or law.
- After completing the investigation, the team sends the complaint to the legal team for review and disposition.
- TALCB closes the complaint and notifies the complaining party of the disposition.
TALCB Initial Review and Triage
TALCB prioritizes complaints containing allegations of violations that pose a high risk of public harm. These violations include those that evidence serious deficiencies under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §153.24, including:
- Identity theft;
- Unlicensed activity;
- Ethical violations;
- Violations of appraiser independence; or
- Other conduct determined by the Board that poses a significant risk of public harm.
Additionally, allegations of violations that pose a high risk of public harm must contain evidence that they were done with knowledge, deliberately, willfully, or with gross negligence. In this situation, if TALCB decides that there is evidence of a continuing threat to public welfare,
When TALCB receives a complaint, staff members first decide whether TALCB has jurisdiction over the allegations in the complaint. Staff members also will assess whether:
- The complaint warrants abatement due to ongoing litigation;
- The case might warrant dismissal; or
- There is evidence of a potential violation that may warrant disciplinary action.
Peer Investigative Committee Review
Under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §153.28, if an investigator recommends contingent dismissal or discipline, a Peer Investigative Committee (PIC) must review the complaint and investigative report within seven days of completion. The PIC is made up of two Board members and an investigator. Within five more days, the PIC must present its determination to the Commissioner, either agreeing or disagreeing with the investigator’s recommendation as to whether to pursue enforcement action.
Potential Sanctions for Violations
Appraisal service providers can face a range of non-disciplinary or disciplinary sanctions for violations of the rules and laws that govern their profession. A non-disciplinary sanction results in the dismissal of the complaint, while formal discipline does not.
Incidents outside the jurisdiction of the TALCB, no evidence that a violation occurred, insufficient evidence that a violation occurred, and first or second-time minor deficiencies, all are situations that can result in non-disciplinary sanctions. These sanctions may include:
- Dismissal with a non-disciplinary warning letter, usually when there are only minor deficiencies; or
- Contingent dismissal, usually when the violation can be remedied through mentorship or education for minor deficiencies under certain circumstances or for serious deficiencies for individuals with no prior disciplinary history.
If the investigation finds evidence of minor deficiencies along with certain aggravating circumstances, or serious deficiencies, the investigator can recommend formal discipline. The recommended disciplinary sanction must follow the TALCB penalty matrix under 22 Tex. Admin. Code §153.24.
Potential disciplinary sanctions can include:
- Remedial measures;
- Required adoption of written preventative policies or procedures;
- Probationary period with provisions for monitoring an appraiser’s practice;
- Restrictions on supervising trainees;
- Restrictions on scope of practice;
- Administrative penalty;
- Period of suspension; or
TALCB will issue a Notice of Alleged Violation and Penalty to the license holder, who has 20 days to respond to the Notice or request a hearing. Resolution of the complaint with one or more of the formal disciplinary sanctions can occur with or without the agreement of the license holder. For instance, TALCB can offer an Agreed Order to the license holder having the recommended sanction. If the license holder agrees to the sanction, the Agreed Order resolves the case.
If the license holder and TALCB cannot agree upon a sanction, whether through negotiations or some form of alternative dispute resolution, or if the license holder requests a hearing within 20 days of receiving the Notice, TALCB will file a Statement of Charges with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). SOAH assigns an administrative law judge (ALJ) to the case, who holds a hearing on the violation and proposed disciplinary sanction. The ALJ issues a Proposal for Decision (PFD), including findings of fact and conclusions of law, within 60 days of the hearing. TALCB then considers the PFD at its next regularly scheduled board meeting, when it may adopt, modify, or remand the PFD to SOAH for further action by the ALJ.
Defend Yourself Against Disciplinary Proceedings Involving Your Appraiser License
Don’t allow an isolated complaint to wreak havoc on your career. Losing your appraiser license can be highly detrimental to your livelihood. If you are facing the loss of your appraiser license, we can help you take the steps necessary to challenge the allegations against you in your disciplinary proceedings. Contact an appraiser license defense attorney at Bertolino LLP, for advice today. Make an appointment by calling (512) 515-9518 or contact us online to see how we can help