File a Grievance
What sets REALTORS® apart from non-member licensed real estate professionals is their voluntary adherence to a strict Code of Ethics. But even with the best of intentions, sometimes disagreements occur between REALTOR® members and their clients, or even sometimes between REALTORS®.
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 and 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 the managing broker of their firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.
If you are unable to resolve the concern, you may consider using the services of an Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman Program is a telephone mediation service that provides volunteers to act as a neutral and independent voice when a member of the public or a BBOR member finds themselves in a dispute with another member. Ombudsman procedures are intended to provide enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity to the professional standards process with complete neutrality and confidentiality. Answers to frequently asked questions about the Ombudsman Program can be found at Ombudsman FAQ. If you would like to resolve your issue through the Ombudsman Program, or have questions about the process, contact BBOR.
ETHICS COMPLAINT PROCESS
If, after discussion with your real estate professional or the managing broker of their firm, you still feel that you have a grievance, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint. To begin the process, first contact BBOR.
You will want to keep in mind that…
- Only REALTORS® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the 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.
- 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.
- Associations of REALTORS® can discipline REALTORS® for violating the a 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.
- 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.
- 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.
License Law Violations
It is possible an unethical violation could also be found in violation of Indiana License Law.
If you believe a REALTOR® has violated Indiana License Law you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office by completing the online or mail-in Attorney General Complaint Form. More information can be found at the Indiana Attorney General.
The documents you will need to file a complaint are listed below.