Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
June 11, 1999
Bruce H. Cagenello
Connecticut Real Estate Commission
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Dear Mr. Cagenello:
The Connecticut Real Estate Commission has requested the Attorney General's Office to render a formal legal opinion regarding the interpretation of C.G.S. § 20-317(a) as it relates to the following question:
Does a non-resident real estate broker or real estate salesperson who is currently licensed in Connecticut under a bona fide Reciprocal Agreement need to qualify with course and experience and take a written exam to establish competency when such licensee becomes a resident of the State of Connecticut?
It is our opinion that a non-resident who acquires a Connecticut license by reciprocity is not required to qualify with the standard courses, and experience, or take a written exam once the license holder becomes a Connecticut resident. The relevant statutory sections do not provide for such requirements, but rather establish an exception to the standard requirements. Connecticut's reciprocity statute requires that the non-resident be licensed in a state with licensure requirements equal to or greater than Connecticut's licensure regulations, thereby assuring protection of Connecticut's citizens.
Referenced in your request was an Opinion of the Attorney General, dated November 3, 1980, responding to the same inquiry. At that time, we reviewed the 1980 version of the real estate chapter of the General Statutes, and observed that the statutory framework established no exceptions from the requirements set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 20-314 that an applicant qualify by examination, experience and course completion. The opinion concluded that licensees who obtained their Connecticut licenses by reciprocity would be required to satisfy the requirements set forth in § 20-314 upon the relocation of their residence to Connecticut.
The real estate brokers and salespersons statute, § 20-317(a), now provides that:
A nonresident of this state may become a real estate broker or real estate salesperson by conforming to all of the provisions of this chapter. The commission shall recognize a current, valid license issued to a currently practicing, competent real estate broker or real estate salesperson by another state as satisfactorily qualifying him for a license as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson under this chapter, provided that the laws of the state of which he is a resident require that applicants for licenses as real estate brokers and real estate salespersons shall establish their competency by written examinations and permit licenses to be issued to residents of the state of Connecticut, licensed under this chapter, without examination and provided further that the licensure requirements of such state are substantially similar to, or higher than those of this state, and such broker or salesperson has no disciplinary proceeding or unresolved complaint pending against him. If the applicant is a resident of a state which does not have such requirement, such applicant shall be required to pass the Connecticut portion of the real estate examination.
Neither the text of the statute nor the relevant legislative history addresses non-resident license-by-reciprocity holders who become Connecticut residents. However, there are several reasons that mandate that such licenses maintain validity upon the relocation of the residence of the licensee to this State.
Reciprocity statutes assume that the practitioner, having met the qualifications for licensure in a sister state with substantially similar requirements, is sufficiently qualified to practice in this state. Indeed, in one Superior Court case, the court observed that § 20-317 "plainly contemplates that competent real estate brokers who are duly licensed and currently practicing in other states with licensing requirements and reciprocity provisions comparable to Connecticut's will be given preferential treatment in obtaining their Connecticut licenses." Wilder Group, Inc. v. Byers, 1995 WL 127877, 3 (Conn. Super.). Furthermore, Connecticut places an additional requirement on non-resident applicants from states which do not have reciprocity agreements with Connecticut.
In 1987, the General Assembly amended § 20-317 by eliminating the requirement of examination in order to obtain a Connecticut license by reciprocity.1 Public Acts 1987, No. 87-137. In passing this amendment, the General Assembly was concerned with maintaining reciprocity agreements with other states by allowing holders of licenses by reciprocity the same benefits that Connecticut residents enjoy in the other states. Conn. H.R. Proc. 4121 (April 28, 1987)(statement of Rep. Mulready). The Commission staff also informed us that states, such as New York and Massachusetts, with whom Connecticut has reciprocity agreements, do not require Connecticut residents who become residents of those states to pass an examination in order to maintain the validity of their license.
To conclude, non-resident holders of licenses-by-reciprocity who become Connecticut residents have a valid Connecticut license and are not required to pass the examination in order to maintain the validity of their license.
Very truly yours,
Neil G. Fishman
Assistant Attorney General
1 This requirement was enacted in a 1982 amendment, Public Acts 1982, No. 82-411.