Boards and associations of REALTORS® are responsible for enforcing the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics imposes duties above and in addition to those imposed by law or regulation which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become REALTORS®.
If you have taken steps to resolve matters through discussion with a principal broker and/or calling the Ethics & Professional Standards Hotline and you are still not satisfied, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint.
We highly encourage reading “Before You File An Ethics Complaint” prior to completing a complaint form.
- Only REALTORS® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATES® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. If the real estate professional you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the state real estate licensing authority or the courts.
- REALTOR® associations determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.
- REALTOR® associations can discipline REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase REALTORS®' understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations.
- REALTOR® associations cannot:
- Require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints;
- Award “punitive damages” for violations of the Code of Ethics;
- Suspend or revoke a real estate professional's license.
- The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes. At the same time, more severe forms of discipline, including fines and suspension and termination of membership may be imposed for serious or repeated violations.
How to File a Complaint
Ethics complaints must be filed with the Association within one hundred eighty (180) days of the time a complainant knew—or reasonably should have known—that potentially unethical conduct took place (unless the Board’s informal dispute resolution processes are invoked in which case the filing deadline will momentarily be suspended).
Your complaint should include a narrative description of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics consists of seventeen (17) Articles. The duties imposed by many of the Articles are explained and illustrated through accompanying Standards of Practice or case interpretations. Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics which may have been violated.
Hearing panels decide whether the Articles expressly cited in complaints were violated—not whether Standards of Practice or case interpretations were violated.
The Grievance Committee may provide technical assistance in preparing a complaint in proper form and with proper content.