As part of the growing movement to further protect real estate agents and Realtors when they are showing a house, the state of Florida is currently considering legislation that would ensure harsher penalties for attacks on real estate agents.
According to an article from the Palm Beach Post, the bill (SB 214) is currently under consideration in the Florida State Senate, and if passed, the bill would increase the classification of crimes against real estate agents that take place during a showing.
From the Palm Beach Post:
The Criminal Justice Committee approved the proposal, which would increase the classification of assaults, batteries and sexual batteries against real-estate brokers and associates when they are showing property.
The text of the bill, which can be read here, states that “the degree of an offense shall be reclassified as if the offense is committed against a broker, broker associate, or sales associate while he or she is engaged in the act of showing real property or holding an open house of real property and the offense is a felony or misdemeanor violation.”
The bill would increase the classification of crimes such as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, and sexual battery one level, meaning an attack on a real estate agent during a showing that was previously a misdemeanor of the first degree would be reclassified as a felony of the third degree, for example.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, told the Palm Beach Post that crimes against agents are “premeditated” and agents need to be better protected by the state’s laws.
“They’re making an appointment with you to assault, murder or rob you,” Detert told the Palm Beach Post. “It’s the stalking aspect. It’s the fact that it’s mostly a female occupation.”
Discussion about the safety of real estate agents and Realtors has become more prevalent lately, especially in the wake of the recent conviction of Arron Lewis for the abduction and murder of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter in 2014.
Just last month, Tampa-area police were asking for help from the public 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.
Earlier in January, the Omaha Area Board of Realtors warned 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.
And in December, a Louisiana man was arrested for cyberstalking several local Realtors.
Now, the state of Florida is moving to have crimes such as those carry stiffer penalties.
According to the Palm Beach Post report, the Florida Senate bill must pass two more committees before it reaches the full Senate, while a companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives is awaiting a full vote.