Filing an Ethics Complaint

ETHICS COMPLAINTS

The Lakeland 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®.

Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, make reasonable efforts to communicate with your real estate professional or a principal broker in the firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, the Lakeland Association of REALTORS® can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint.

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.

Only REALTORS® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of

REALTORS®. Those licensees who are not REALTORS® are bound solely by Florida License Law. 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, DBPR..

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 Lakeland Association of REALTORS® within one hundred eighty (180) days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonable should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place.
  • 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.

After You Have Filed

The Lakeland 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.

General instructions for filing a complaint

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