Boards and associations of Realtors® are 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 difficulties between real estate professionals (whether Realtors® or not) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have a problem with a real estate professional, you may want to speak with them or with a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action. If, after discussing matters with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm, you are still not satisfied, you may want to contact the local board or association of Realtors®. Many boards and associations have informal dispute resolving processes available to consumers (e.g. ombudsmen, mediation, etc.). If, after taking these steps, you still feel you have a grievance, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint. You will want to keep in mind that only REALTORS® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®s are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Here are some general principles to keep in mind as you begin the process:
- Ethics complaints must be filed with the appropriate REALTOR® association 180 days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably could have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place.
- Your complaint should include a narrative description of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated. Please be as specific as possible about the actions that the REALTOR® took or did not take that you believe were unethical.
- Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics that may have been violated by the actions (or inactions) you have identified as potentially unethical. Hearing Panels decide whether the Articles expressly cited in complaints were violated – not whether Standards of Practice or case interpretations were violated.
Once you have completed your ethics complaint paperwork, the complaint form, narrative and supporting documentation should be forwarded to:
REALTOR® Association of Prince William
Attn: Professional Standards
4545 Daisy Reid Avenue, Ste. 150
Woodbridge, VA 22192
If a legal dispute arises between members or between members and their clients, PWAR’s arbitration services help resolve contractual issues and questions that arise between members, between members and their clients, and, in some cases, between parties to a transaction brought about through the efforts of REALTORS®.
The Ombudsman Program adopted by the Regional Cooperative made up of the Realtor Association of Prince William, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, Dulles Area Association of Realtors, Blue Ridge Association of Realtors, and Greater Piedmont Area Association of Realtors is intended to provide an alternative dispute resolution service for members of the public or other Realtors with complaints against members of one of the Associations. All local associations are charged with the responsibility of receiving and resolving ethics complaints, and hearing arbitration disputes filed against their members. An ombudsman can respond to general questions regarding real estate practices, transaction details, ethical practices and enforcement issues.
Once the designated Association staff receives a request or intake form for ombudsman services, the information will be sent to an Association ombudsman. The ombudsman will make all necessary contact with the parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint. If the efforts are not successful, the ombudsman will advise the complainant about the next steps in the complaint process should the complainant wish to file a formal Code of Ethics complaint.
The types of dispute that the ombudsman can assist with are those that are:
- Modest monetary amount, not greater than $500.00
- May be solved by providing simple education
- May be solved by providing basic knowledge