It happens. Ethic violations happen – whether intentionally or not. Then there are times where there is NOT an ethics violation, but someone thinks that there is. The National Association of Realtors® has an extensive Code of Ethics that Realtors® are held to. These are the ethical guidelines on dealing with an ethics violation -either as the accused or the accuser.
If charged with unethical practice or asked to present evidence or to cooperate in any other way, in any professional standards proceeding or investigation, REALTORS® shall place all pertinent facts before the proper tribunals of the Member Board or affiliated institute, society, or council in which membership is held and shall take no action to disrupt or obstruct such processes.
There are four important points to understand, regarding this particular article:
- A Realtor® cannot be “tried” in more than one “Board of REALTORS® or affiliated institute, society or council in which they hold membership” regarding any alleged ethics violation. So, let’s say that Realtor® Ray was a member to both the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors® and the South Denver Metro Realtor® Association. One day he gets an ethical complaint filed against him. This allegation can only go through ONE of the boards that he is a member of. Basically, no duplicate allegations.
- Realtors® are not
allowed to disclose any allegations or developments regarding an “ethics hearing or appeal or in connection with an arbitration hearing or procedural review.” If the allegations prove to be false, and another Realtor® is out blabbing about it, it could seriously damage the reputation of the “defending” Realtor®. That is just not fair.
- No Realtor® shall “obstruct the Board’s investigative or professional standards proceedings by instituting or threatening to institute actions for libel, slander or defamation against any party to a professional standards proceeding or their witnesses based on the filing of an arbitration request, an ethics complaint, or testimony given before any tribunal.” …Don’t be a jerk. There is absolutely no reason to make an ethics hearing more difficult than it has to be.
- A Realtor® may NOT file more than one complaint about the same event. It muddies up the system and makes it very hard to get down to what “really” happened.
In many cases, an ethics violation is unintentional, and can be remediated without a full Ethics Hearing. A very common answer to an unintentional Ethics Violation is for the offender to take an Ethics Course through the local board of Realtors®. Now, Realtors® ARE required to take these classes on a regular basis, but a “refresher” may be needed more frequently in some situations.
Please check out my other posts on Understanding the Realtor® Code of Ethics: Articles 1-13.