Ladd v. Real Estate Comm.

Ladd, who was in her sixties, lived in MJ and managed the rental of two properties she owned, as well as the rental of some of her neighbors’ properties, in the Poconos. In January 2017, the Commonwealth’s Bureau of Occupational and Professional Affairs (the Bureau), charged with overseeing the Commission’s enforcement of the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act (RELRA), called Ladd to inform her she had been reported for the “unlicensed practice of real estate.” Therefore, Ladd filed a complaint in the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction, seeking a declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction. Specifically, Ladd alleged RELRA’s broker requirements and the Bureau’s practices violate her substantive due process rights pursuant to Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution because they impose unlawful burdens on her right to pursue her chosen occupation. The Commonwealth Court sustained the Commonwealth’s preliminary objections. The Supreme Court of PA reversed.

Using a rational basis test, the Court concluded that the Commonwealth Court erred when it sustained the Commonwealth’s demurrer; Ladd’s complaint raised a colorable claim that RELRA’s requirements are unconstitutional as applied to her because they are, in that context, unreasonable, unduly oppressive and patently beyond the necessities of the case, thus outweighing the government’s legitimate policy objective.