Not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a real estate licensee who had chosen to take an extra step toward professionalism and high ethical standards by joining the local, state and national Associations of REALTORS®. As all licensees must follow licensing laws, it is only those licensees who have chosen to hold REALTOR® membership who are subject to the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics.
The Chicago Association of REALTORS® is 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®. 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.
The Chicago Association of REALTORS® can administer discipline to a REALTOR® found to be in violation of the Code of Ethics as follows:
- Place a letter of warning or reprimand to the member, with a copy placed in the member’s personal file.
- Direct the member to attend an ethics class or other training appropriate to the violation.
- Fine the member up to $15,000.
- Place the member on probation (with regard to membership).
- Suspend the member from Board membership or MLS access.
- Expel the member from Board membership or MLS access.
The Chicago Association of REALTORS® has legal limits on its authority. We cannot conduct a hearing to determine violations of law, nor can it enforce contracts or award monetary damages to a party in a case. These powers are reserved to the courts and/or state licensing authority. We also do not have the power to revoke an individual’s real estate license. This power falls under the authority of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
Those licensees that are not REALTORS® are bound solely by the License Act of the IDFPR.
Boards and associations of REALTORS® determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. The licensing authorities or the courts can only make those decisions. To file a complaint with the State Licensing Authority, IDFPR, click here.
Boards of REALTORS® can only 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 ethics duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals.
- REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations.
- Boards and associations of REALTORS® cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; cannot award “punitive damages” for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license.
- Ethics complaints must be filed with the Chicago 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, or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event.
- Make certain to include the date when the alleged violation took place so that Grievance can determine if the request is filed on time.
- Make certain to state clearly your involvement or connection to the complaint. All appropriate parties should be named.
- Your complaint should include a narrative timeline of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated.
- Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics, which you allege have been violated.
The Chicago Association of REALTORS® Grievance Committee will review your complaint. 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
If the Grievance Committee forwards your complaint for hearing, that does not mean they have decided the Code of Ethics has been violated. Rather, it means they feel that if what you allege in your complaint is found to have occurred by the hearing panel, that panel may have reason to find that a violation of the Code of Ethics occurred.
If your complaint is dismissed you will be given the opportunity to appeal the dismissal.