Ethics Complaints

Did you know? 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®. And while all licensees must follow licensing laws, only those licensees who have chosen to hold REALTOR® membership are subject to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics.

What is the REALTOR® Code of Ethics?

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics imposes duties above and beyond those imposed by law or regulation. 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.

Who enforces the REALTOR® Code of Ethics?

As the local association, we are responsible for enforcing the Code of Ethics and can administer discipline to a REALTOR® found to be in violation of the Code of Ethics. This discipline could look like this:

  • Placing a letter of warning or reprimand to the member, with a copy placed in the member’s personal file
  • Directing the member to attend an ethics class or other training appropriate to the violation
  • Fining the member up to $15,000
  • Placing the member on membership probation
  • Suspending their membership and/or MLS access
  • Expelling the member from membership and/or MLS access

Keep in mind: the Chicago Association of REALTORS® has legal limits on its authority. We cannot conduct a hearing to determine violations of law, nor can we 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, which falls under the authority of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Who’ subject to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics?

Only REALTORS® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATES® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.

I Am Not A REALTOR®, Can i Still Report A Violation?

Yes. Members of the Public can report a violation against a REALTOR® Member.

I feel my REALTOR® Broker the Law, But I Don’t See their Specific Violation Listed in the Code of Ethics?

The local association only administers and enforces the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and its 17 Articles. REALTOR® Associations like CAR determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. REALTORS® are also bound by the Illinois Real Estate License Act which is governed by IDFPR. Only IDFPR or the courts can make a determination on whether a law or real estate regulation was broken. To file a complaint with the State Licensing Authority, IDFPR, click here.

What Does Discipline for the Code of Ethics Look Like?

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.

What is Required to File An Ethics Complaint?

  • Ethics complaints must be filed with the Chicago Association of REALTORS® within 180 days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place, or within 180 days after the conclusion of the transaction or event.
  • Make certain to include the date when the alleged violation took place so that our Grievance Committee 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 led you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated. If you have supporting evidence and documentation such as emails, text messages, advertisements, contracts, etc… you may submit those with your filing.
  • Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics, which you allege have been violated.
General instructions for filing a complaint

What Happens After i File An Ethics Complaint?

After you file, the Grievance Committee will review your complaint 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 means they don’t feel 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 doesn’t mean they have decided the Code of Ethics has been violated. Rather, it means that if what you allege in your complaint is found to have occurred by the hearing panel, that panel may have reason to find a violation of the Code of Ethics.

Please note: if your complaint is dismissed you will be given the opportunity to appeal the dismissal.