RE/MAX Pembroke Pines franchisee sent unwanted text messages to Broward woman: lawsuit

Since March, four lawsuits have been filed against realtors for violating federal telephone consumer protection law

Aug.August 12, 2019 09:45 AM
Aroosa Rauf, owner of RE/MAX Presidential

Aroosa Rauf, owner of RE/MAX Presidential

A Pembroke Pines franchisee of RE/MAX, one of the nation’s largest real estate brokerages, is being accused of spamming Broward County resident Josie Williams with offers to save money on the sale of a home by paying a reduced commission. It’s the latest complaint lodged at a realtor for allegedly abusing mass texting practices in violation of federal law.

On Aug. 1, Williams sued RE/MAX Presidential in Miami federal court. She alleges that the realty company sent her telemarketing text messages without her consent, which is illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the complaint states. A day earlier, Aventura realtor Alexander de la Cruz filed a similar federal lawsuit against La Rosa Realty, a Celebration-based brokerage with four offices in South Florida.

Garrett Berg, Williams’ lawyer who is also representing de la Cruz, declined comment. RE/MAX Presidential owner and realtor Aroosa Rauf did not respond to phone messages. Like de la Cruz, Williams is seeking class action status for her complaint. In her lawsuit, Williams included screenshots of text messages received on May 29.

The first message read, “SAVE SAVE SAVE NOW Many of our listings we get direct buyers. Sellers then will only pay 3%.” A second message asked, “If you are thinking of selling, we may save you 3% comm. we helped many sellers.” And a third message inquired, “Is your home still for sale? I have 3 qualified buyers for the area. Please let me know, thanks.”

Williams accuses RE/MAX Presidential of using an autodialer to send the texts and that she did not provide “express written consent” to receive the messages. According to legal experts, even if an individual provides their telephone number, businesses are only allowed to send certain transactional communications such as a message asking to sign sales documents. But the Federal Communications Commission adopted regulations that any calls or texts that involve marketing material must be approved in writing with the recipient.

The lawsuits against RE/MAX and La Rosa Realty come on the heels of two other spamming lawsuits filed against Coldwell Banker and Naples-based Marzucco Real Estate. The Coldwell Banker lawsuit has been stayed pending a Federal Communications Commission revision of what defines an automated telephone dialing system. And Marzucco settled its lawsuit on July 31.

RE/MAX, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, operates through a franchise system. Up until 2013, the company held the position of the No. 1 market share in the United States and Canada since 1999.

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