Before You File an Ethics Complaint
Boards and Associations of REALTORS® are 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 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 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-Associates® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
- If the real estate professional (or their broker) you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the state real estate licensing authority or the courts.
- Boards and Associations of REALTORS® determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.
- Boards of REALTORS® can 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 ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations. Boards and Associations of REALTORS® cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; can-not award “punitive damages” for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license.
- The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes. At the same time, more severe forms of discipline, including fines and suspension and termination of membership may be imposed for serious or repeated violations.
Steps for Filing an Ethics Complaint
- Make sure that the person you are filing against is a REALTOR®. Please call the Georgia Association of REALTORS® at 770-451-1831 to find out. If the person you would like to file a complaint against is not a REALTOR®, you must contact the Georgia Real Estate Commission at 404-656-3916.
- If the person is a REALTOR®, make sure that you file the Ethics complaint with the appropriate Board/Association. The participating Boards/Associations that have signed the Statewide Professional Standards agreement are listed on this website under “Participating Boards/Associations”.
- If the REALTOR® you would like to file an Ethics Complaint against is not a member of one of the participating Boards/Associations, please contact that Board/Association directly to file an Ethics Complaint.
- Once you have established the Ethics Complaint needs to be filed with the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, please read:
- Complete Form E-1. You are the complainant and the REALTOR® that you are filing the complaint against is the respondent. You must write in the Article or Articles of the Code of the Code of Ethics you think have been violated. Please provide all of your contact info that is listed on Form E-1.
- You must also write a detailed description of the events and send in any documentation that is relevant to your complaint.
- To file the complaint, please send in Form E-1, your detailed description and any documentation that is relevant to your complaint. You may mail this information to the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, 3200 Presidential Drive, Atlanta, GA 30340.
- If the circumstances giving rise to this ethics complaint involve civil or criminal litigation or are in any proceeding before the Georgia Real Estate Commission or any other state or federal regulatory or administrative agency, the complaint will be held in abeyance until these matters have been resolved.
- Once your Ethics complaint has been received, you will be notified by email. The Georgia Association of REALTORS® has two scheduled Grievance meetings per month. You will be notified of their findings and the next step in the process within 48 hours of their meeting being held.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Christina Chow, Director of Legal Affairs at 678-597-4128.
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