FILING A COMPLAINT - PROCESS & FORMS

Background on Complaint Process
Boards and associations of REALTORS® are responsible for enforcing the REALTORS® 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®. Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have a problem with a real estate professional, you may want to speak with them or with a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action. If, after discussing matters with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm, you are still not satisfied, you may want to contact the local board or association of REALTORS®. Many boards and associations have informal dispute resolving processes available to consumers (e.g. ombudsmen, mediation, etc.). If, after taking these steps, you still feel you have a grievance, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint. <<Read more>>

Filing an Ethics Complaint
The local board or association of REALTORS® can provide you with information on the procedures for filing an ethics complaint. Here are some general principles to keep in mind.

Ethics complaints must be filed with the local board or association of REALTORS® within one hundred eighty (180) days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place. <<Read more>>

Before the Hearing
Your complaint will be reviewed by the local board or association's Grievance Committee. Their job is to review complaints to determine if the allegations made, if taken as true, might support a violation of the Article(s) cited in the complaint.

If the Grievance Committee dismisses your complaint, it does not mean they don't believe you. Rather, it means that they do not feel that your allegations would support a hearing panel's conclusion that the Article(s) cited in your complaint had been violated. You may want to review your complaint to see if you cited an Article appropriate to your allegations.

If the Grievance Committee forwards your complaint for hearing, that does not mean they have decided the Code of Ethics has been violated. <<Read more>>

Preparing for the Hearing
Familiarize yourself with the hearing procedures that will be followed. In particular you will want to know about challenging potential panel members, your right to counsel, calling witnesses, and the burdens and standards of proof that apply.

Complainants have the ultimate responsibility ("burden") of proving that the Code of Ethics has been violated. <<Read more>>

At the Hearing
Appreciate that panel members are unpaid volunteers giving their time as an act of public service. Their objective is to be fair, unbiased, and impartial; to determine, based on the evidence and testimony presented to them, what actually occurred; and then to determine whether the facts as they find them support a finding that the Article(s) charged have been violated. <<Read more>>

After the Hearing
When you receive the hearing panel's decision, review it carefully.

Findings of fact are the conclusions of impartial panel members based on their reasoned assessment of all of the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing. Findings of fact are not appealable. <<Read more>>

Conclusion
Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, make reasonable efforts to communicate with your real estate professional or a principal broker in the firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, the local board or association of REALTORS® can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint.

Download the Agreement to Mediate (in fillable PDF format).