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How To Handle An Ethics Complaint
The Kent Washington Association of REALTORS® is responsible for enforcing the REALTOR® 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®.
Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, parties are encouraged to make reasonable efforts to communicate with a principal broker of the firm. If these efforts are unproductive, we encourage you to speak to our Association Ombudsman. Procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint are found below, in the event that a dispute cannot be resolved in one of the above two ways.
Associations/Boards 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 Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations, click below.
Associations/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 Kent Washington 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 the 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 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. Standards of Practice may be cited to support an alleged violation of an Article of the Code; Parties are found to be in violation of Articles, not Standards of Practice.
After You Have Filed
The KWAOR Grievance Committee meets monthly to review filed complaints. 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. The Grievance Committee may amend your complaint by adding or deleting Articles of the Code if they believe such amendments are warranted.
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.