Many Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“TLDR“) licensees fail to realize just how important it is to check their mailboxes. Licensees who use PO Boxes or other mail receipt services or who do not check their mail frequently run a significant risk from a regulatory standpoint. The problem with this practice arises when TDLR uses that address to send notice to you about something that could affect your license.
TDLR requires licensees to list a “licensed” address on their applications. Frequently, this address is the only way that TDLR communicates with its licensees. It is the address where renewal notices are sent, but also where notices of investigations and notices of alleged violations are delivered. If licensees don’t check their mail at this address frequently, they may find themselves losing a contested case they never knew about.
Investigations and notices of alleged violations (“NOAV”) are typically delivered to just your licensed address on file with TDLR. As both investigations and NOAVs are highly time sensitive, failing to check mail and respond to correspondence from TDLR can have significant consequences to your license. For example, a licensee might receive an NOAV from TDLR that could have been easily resolved. However, if TDLR does not receive a response to the NOAV, the department can take a “default” action against you and assess the full amount of the penalty. This is true even if TDLR offered to settle the case for less in the same letter that was initially delivered.
Additionally, TDLR may “presume” that you received the notice. The Texas Administrative Code lets TDLR presume that a licensee receives notice three days after the notice is sent to the licensee’s address on file with TDLR. That presumption means that even if a licensee never actually received the notice (such as if it was lost in the mail), TDLR can still presume you received it and move forward with the case against your license. The same presumption applies if you fail to check your mail and the notice of alleged violation simply sits unopened in your mailbox.
While a licensee may have a valid argument if a notice of alleged violation was never actually delivered, a case is unlikely to go well if a licensee simply neglected to keep up with correspondence. Part of being licensed by the state entails the licensee keeping up with proceedings that affect its license.
Keeping up with the mail is a simple matter. Many licensees would not go more than a day without checking their mail. However, given that TDLR takes default actions quickly, this post is simply a reminder that a keeping up with correspondence from TDLR is vitally important. If you use a PO Box or some other mailbox service, make very sure that you are visiting that box and collecting your mail regularly. If you don’t, you should set up a registered agent service that includes mail forwarding or electronic mail delivery so that you never miss a delivery even if you don’t check your mail for an extended period of time.