REALTORS® are different from other real estate licensees in that they voluntarily pledge to abide by a strict code of professional conduct above and beyond the licensing laws of the state. This conduct is outlined in the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. If you feel like any part of the Code has been violated by a REALTOR®, you are entitled to file a complaint. The REALTORS® Code of Ethics is comprised of seventeen Articles. The Articles are explained through accompanying Standards of Practice.
All ethics complaints must be filed with the REALTOR® Association within 180 days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place. Complaints must be in writing and submitted using the Ethics Complaint Form E-1. A complaint should cite one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics which may have been violated and a narrative description or summary of events that occurred leading to the belief the Code of Ethics may have been violated.
The Complaint Form E-1 and supporting documents should be sent to the Board Services Division of the Colorado Association of REALTORS®. Please email us at EthicsComplaints@ColoradoREALTORS.com.
Once the complaint is received, it will be reviewed by the association’s Grievance Committee. The job of the Grievance Committee is to determine if the allegations made, if taken as true might support a violation of the Article(s) cited in the complaint. The Grievance Committee, based on specific guidelines, determines if a case should be referred to hearing or dismissed.
The Grievance Committee may also issue a citation for certain and specific violations of the Code of Ethics. The Grievance Committee will review all appropriately-filed ethics complaints to determine if an allegation classifies as a citable offense and is eligible for a citation. The Grievance Committee may only issue a citation for complaints that allege a citable offense. A citation allows the REALTOR® to pay a pre-determined fine for the violation instead of going to hearing. If an allegation qualifies for a citation, the Complainant will remain anonymous from the citation. A REALTOR® may request a hearing instead of electing to participate in the citation. If the REALTOR® makes such an election, the Complainant name will no longer remain anonymous.
Citations may only be issued for alleged violations that are specifically outlined in the Citation Schedule of Fines. Citations may not be issued when a complaint alleges some violations that are covered in the Citation Schedule and some that are not; these complaints will be referred to a hearing. Only the Grievance Committee may issue the citation; Complainants and Respondents may not request a citation be issued. If a REALTOR® receives a citation they have ten (10) days to respond or twenty (20) days to request a hearing.
If the Grievance Committee forwards the complaint to hearing, or if a REALTOR who receives a citation requests a hearing, the Professional Standards Committee panel will hear the case. The hearing panel makes the determination if the Code of Ethics has or has not been violated. The hearing panel may discipline a REALTOR® found to have violated the Code of Ethics. Disciplinary action may include requiring education, a fine, letters of warning or reprimand, and suspension or termination of membership..
It is recommended that you review the following document prior to filing a complaint to better understand the process.
In addition to processing formal ethics complaints against its REALTOR® members, many boards and associations offer informal dispute resolving processes. Often, parties are more satisfied with informal dispute resolution processes, as they are quicker, less costly, and often help repair damaged relationships.
The Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR) will offer the services of an Ombudsman to anyone calling the CAR office with a complaint concerning a REALTOR® member or members. The issue can be between a consumer and a REALTOR®, or a REALTOR® and a REALTOR®. Some of the issues that may be raised by the Complainant may not expressly allege violations of the Code of Ethics, but are concerns from a consumer or REALTOR® member and may actually be transactional, technical or procedural questions.
The Ombudsmen role is one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. They do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred, rather they anticipate, identify, and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters turn into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct. The Ombudsman is a neutral party and often times acts as a sounding board for disputants.
For more information about the Ombudsman Service or if you have any questions regarding filing an Ethics Complaint, please contact Board Services at 303-790-7099.