(1) Each person who acts as a mortgage lender must be licensed under this section.
(2) In order to apply for a mortgage lender license, an applicant must:
(a) Submit a completed application form as prescribed by the commission by rule.
(b) Designate a qualified principal loan originator who meets the requirements of s. 494.0035 on the application form.
(c) Submit a nonrefundable application fee of $500, and the $100 nonrefundable fee if required by s. 494.00172. Application fees may not be prorated for partial years of licensure.
(d) Submit fingerprints for each of the applicant’s control persons in accordance with rules adopted by the commission:
1. The fingerprints may be submitted to the registry, the office, or a vendor acting on behalf of the registry or the office.
2. The office may contract with a third-party vendor to provide live-scan fingerprinting in lieu of a paper fingerprint card.
3. A state criminal history background check must be conducted through the Department of Law Enforcement, and a federal criminal history background check must be conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
4. All fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement must be submitted electronically and entered into the statewide automated fingerprint identification system established in s. 943.05(2)(b) and available for use in accordance with s. 943.05(2)(g) and (h). The office shall pay an annual fee to the department to participate in the system and inform the department of any person whose fingerprints are no longer required to be retained.
5. The costs of fingerprint processing, including the cost of retaining the fingerprints, shall be borne by the person subject to the background check.
6. The office is responsible for reviewing the results of the state and federal criminal history checks and determining whether the applicant meets licensure requirements.
(e) Indicate whether the applicant will be seeking a servicing endorsement on the application form.
(f) Submit a copy of the applicant’s financial audit report for the most recent fiscal year, pursuant to United States generally accepted accounting principles. If the applicant is a wholly owned subsidiary of another corporation, the financial audit report for the parent corporation satisfies this requirement. The commission may establish by rule the form and procedures for filing the financial audit report, including the requirement to file the report with the registry when technology is available. The financial audit report must document that the applicant has a bona fide and verifiable net worth, of at least $63,000 if the applicant is not seeking a servicing endorsement, or at least $250,000 if the applicant is seeking a servicing endorsement, which must be continuously maintained as a condition of licensure. However, if the applicant held an active license issued before October 1, 2010, pursuant to former s. 494.0065, and the applicant is seeking a servicing endorsement, the minimum net worth requirement:
1. Until September 30, 2011, is $63,000.
2. Between October 1, 2011, and September 30, 2012, is $125,000.
3. On or after October 1, 2012, is $250,000.
(g) Authorize the registry to obtain an independent credit report on each of the applicant’s control persons from a consumer reporting agency, and transmit or provide access to the report to the office. The cost of the credit report shall be borne by the applicant.
(h) Submit additional information or documentation requested by the office and required by rule concerning the applicant or a control person of the applicant. Additional information may include documentation of pending and prior disciplinary and criminal history events, including arrest reports and certified copies of charging documents, plea agreements, judgments and sentencing documents, documents relating to pretrial intervention, orders terminating probation or supervised release, final administrative agency orders, or other comparable documents that may provide the office with the appropriate information to determine eligibility for licensure.
(i) Submit any other information required by the registry for the processing of the application.
(3) An application is considered received for the purposes of s. 120.60 upon the office’s receipt of all documentation from the registry, including the completed application form, criminal history information, and independent credit report, as well as the license application fee, the fee required under s. 494.00172, and all applicable fingerprinting processing fees.
(4) The office shall issue a mortgage lender license to each person who is not otherwise ineligible and who meets the requirements of this section. However, it is a ground for denial of licensure if the applicant or one of the applicant’s control persons:
(a) Has committed any violation specified in ss. 494.001-494.0077, or is the subject of a pending felony criminal prosecution or a prosecution or an administrative enforcement action, in any jurisdiction, which involves fraud, dishonesty, breach of trust, money laundering, or any other act of moral turpitude.
(b) Has failed to demonstrate the character, general fitness, and financial responsibility necessary to command the confidence of the community and warrant a determination that the applicant will operate honestly, fairly, and efficiently.
1. If the office has information that could form the basis for license denial under this paragraph, before denying the license, the office must notify the applicant in writing of the specific items of concern and provide the applicant with an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the specific items and provide any information that the applicant believes is relevant to the office’s determination.
2. For purposes of evaluating adverse information found in an applicant’s credit report, the information must be considered within the totality of the circumstances. Information provided by the applicant under subparagraph 1., or information obtained by the office by other means, may be used to provide a context for the adverse items. For example, the adverse items may have resulted from factors that do not necessarily reflect negatively upon the applicant’s character, general fitness, or financial responsibility.
3. The office may not use a credit score or the absence or insufficiency of credit history information to determine character, general fitness, or financial responsibility.
4. If information contained in a credit report is used as the basis for denying a license, the office shall, in accordance with s. 120.60(3), provide with particularity the grounds or basis for denial. The use of the terms “poor credit history,” “poor credit rating,” or similar language does not meet the requirements of this paragraph.
(5) The office may not issue a license if the applicant has had a mortgage lender license or its equivalent revoked in any jurisdiction, or any of the applicant’s control persons has ever had a loan originator license or its equivalent revoked in any jurisdiction.
(6) A person required to be licensed under this part, or an agent or employee thereof, is deemed to have consented to the venue of courts in this state regarding any matter within the authority of ss. 494.001-494.0077 regardless of where an act or violation was committed.
(7) A license issued in accordance with this part is not transferable or assignable.
(8) A mortgage lender or branch office license may be annulled pursuant to s. 120.60 if it was issued by the office by mistake. A license must be reinstated if the applicant demonstrates that the requirements for obtaining the license under this chapter have been satisfied.
(9) Each lender, regardless of the number of branches it operates, shall designate a principal loan originator representative who exercises control of the licensee’s business, and a branch manager for each branch office. Each mortgage lender must keep the office informed of the persons designated as prescribed by commission rule, which includes documentation of the individual’s acceptance of such responsibility. If the designation is inaccurate, the branch shall be deemed to be operated under the full charge, control, and supervision by each officer, director, or ultimate equitable owner of a 10-percent or greater interest in the mortgage lender business, or any other person in a similar capacity during that time.
(10) All mortgage lender licenses must be renewed annually by December 31 pursuant to s. 494.00612. If a person holding an active mortgage lender license has not applied to renew the license on or before December 31, the mortgage lender license expires on December 31. If a person holding an active mortgage lender license has applied to renew the license on or before December 31, the mortgage lender license remains active until the renewal application is approved or denied. A mortgage lender is not precluded from reapplying for licensure upon expiration of a previous license.