• Legislation is moving in the Florida Senate to increase penalties for harming Realtors.
  • The Senate sponsor, Nancy Detert, says that the attacks are predatory, premeditated and targeted toward a female-dominated profession.
  • There have been a variety of concerning incidents against Realtors within the past few months.

Earlier this week, the Florida State Senate began to consider a piece of legislation that is designed to more harshly punish those who attack real estate agents.

In light of recent attacks and stalking incidents involving those in the real estate profession, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, introduced the legislation. It was being considered by the appropriate committees as of Feb. 23.

Sen. Detert said that since most in the real estate profession are female, and since the attacks that have occurred are for the most part premeditated, the bill was long overdue.

Her bill makes crimes committed – assaults, batteries and sexual batteries – against real-estate brokers and associates when they are showing property more serious offenses.

The bill would increase the classification of crimes such as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, and sexual battery one level, meaning an attack that was previously a misdemeanor of the first degree would be reclassified as a felony of the third degree.

Some of her colleagues, though, are not so sure that this legislation is the right way to address the problem of violence in the workplace.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, told the Palm Beach Post that he gets “nervous” about setting criminal laws that single out professions for special protections.

“They’re making an appointment with you to assault, murder or rob you,” Detert told the same paper. “It’s the stalking aspect. It’s the fact that it’s mostly a female occupation.”

Realtor safety is a concern across the nation

A number of disturbing incidents of late have brought the subject of realtor safety to the forefront. In addition to the abduction and murder of Arkansas realtor Beverly Carter in 2014, these incidents have raised concern:

  • Tampa-area police were asking for help from the public last month to find a man accused of preying on female real estate agents by luring them to showings alone and then allegedly engaging in inappropriate conduct
  • The Omaha Area Board of Realtors issued a warning in early January to its more than 2,500 members about reports that a “suspicious character” was attempting to coerce female agents into meeting at what turned out to be fake home showings.
  • In December, a Louisiana man was arrested for cyberstalking several local Realtors.

According to the Palm Beach Post report, the Florida Senate bill must pass two more committees before it reaches the full Senate. A companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives, House Bill 47, is awaiting a full vote in that chamber. The House version was introduced by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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