Code of Ethics
What is the Code of Ethics and how does it impact me?
NAR’s Code of Ethics is the one factor that distinguishes REALTORS® from other real estate agents. The Code of Ethics is universally recognized by practitioners, attorneys and laymen alike as the measure of professionalism in real estate. When you abide by the Code, it ensures your fellow practitioners and the public of a high standard of business conduct.
Updated annually, in response to changes in the industry, each REALTOR® needs to review the Code when these changes occur.
If a business practice issue or monetary dispute occurs during a transaction, the Code requires that REALTORS® file an ethics complaint or request for arbitration, before they litigate. This process is designed to educate practitioners on appropriate business practices and resolve commission disputes in an expedient and non-costly manner. The Code of Ethics is also an excellent Risk Management tool. Include a copy in your listing presentation packet, to educate clients on the “REALTOR® difference”.
The following documents are for use in understanding and engaging the process of filing a grievance. Please review the documents related to your concerns.
About Ethics Complaints
Lakeland 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, Lakeland 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.
How do I file an Ethics Complaint
Ethics complaints must be filed with Lakeland 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
Lakeland 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.
Questions regarding an Ethics Complaint?
Contact CEO Barbara Barnes or (863) 687-6111