The National Association of REALTORS® adopted its Code of Ethics in 1913, imposing duties above and in addition to those imposed by law and regulation. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®; only those agents who belong to their local Association of REALTORS® may claim this designation. With the REALTOR® designation comes the obligation to abide by the professional behavior to clients, customers, other members of the public and fellow real estate professionals detailed in the Code of Ethics. It is because of this obligation to the Code of Ethics that you may file a complaint with the Association. To determine whether an agent is a REALTOR®, please call the Association for verification or check the Association Directory.
Many difficulties between real estate professionals may result from misunderstandings or miscommunications. Therefore, before filing a complaint, it is recommended that you speak with your real estate professional and/or with the principal broker of the firm prior to filing a complaint. Differences may often be resolved by such communication.
Associations of REALTORS® only determine whether the Code of Ethics or association membership duties have been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. When broken laws or regulations are suspected or when the real estate professional is not a REALTOR®, you may need to contact the California Department of Real Estate (916-227-0864) or the courts. And if litigation is being pursued by the complainant, the Association will usually not proceed with the ethics complaint until the litigation has concluded.
For violations of the Code of Ethics, the association may discipline its REALTOR® members. Such discipline may involve letters of warning or reprimand, require appropriate education relevant to the violation, impose fines and/or suspend or terminate association membership for serious or repeated violations. The Association may not require REALTORS® to pay the complainant(s) monetary or punitive damages and cannot revoke a real estate license.
Filing an Ethics Complaint
To file a complaint you must:
Role of Association Staff
The Association's paid professional staff members are not licensed REALTORS® or lawyers. The Professional Standards Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the professional standards process of paperwork administration, notifications, correspondence, and maintenance of the confidential case files is done in a timely and efficient manner according to the policies and procedures set forth in the California and National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards manuals. The staff is not allowed to dispense legal advice or counsel you on your case.
The entire ethics process usually takes a minimum of 3 months but may take longer. It is the ultimate duty of staff to ensure due process to all parties. You can assist staff by making sure that additional requests for information and any pertinent deadlines in the process are responded to in a timely manner.
Download Ethics Complaint Form