The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® is 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 ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, parties are encouraged to make reasonable efforts to communicate with a principal broker in your firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, we encourage you to speak to an Association Ombudsman. Procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint are found below, in the event that a dispute cannot be resolved in one of the above two ways.
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® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATES® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. Those licensees that are not REALTORS® are bound solely by the General Laws of the Commonwealth applicable to Real Estate Salespersons or Brokers.
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. The licensing authorities or the courts can only make those decisions. To file a complaint with the State Licensing Authority, the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons, click here
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 Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® within one hundred eighty (180) days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place, or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event.
• 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. Standards of Practice may be cited to support an alleged violation of an Article of the Code; Parties are found to be in violation of Articles, not Standards of Practice.
After You Have Filed
Filing a complaint on-line is the easiest and fastest way to notify Professional Standards staff at GBAR of a dispute. Although we will accept submissions by mail, the on-line filing method is preferred as you will be able to upload all relevant documents to your complaint and the 180-day “clock” is stopped once the complaint has been received by the Association. At least quarterly, the GBAR 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. The Grievance Committee may amend your complaint by adding or deleting Articles of the Code if they believe such amendments are warranted.
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.
Before You File an Ethics Complaint
NAR Code of Ethics
General instructions for filing a complaint
Click Here to File an Ethics Complaint
(online version with CasePro)
Click Here to File an Ethics Complaint