If you believe a REALTOR® may have acted in an unethical manner, you may seek resolution through OCAR’s Professional Standards Department by filing a Grievance. A Grievance alleges that a REALTOR® has violated an Article(s) of the Code of Ethics or an MLS participant or subscriber has violated the Multiple Listing Service Rules and Regulations.
Before You File
Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that an OCAR REALTOR® member or MLS participant or subscriber is in violation of any conduct subject to disciplinary action, may file a complaint.
- Only REALTORS® 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 state licensing authority or the courts.
- Associations 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 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.
How to File
Below you will find the Grievance Complaint forms. Here are some important points to consider when filling out the paperwork:
Determine whether you are still within 180 calendar days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place.
Check if the REALTOR® you are filing a complaint against belongs to Orange County REALTORS® here. Some individuals are MLS-Only subscribers / participants and will not be listed in our directory. Please call us to verify if you can't find the person.
The Grievance Complaint alleging violation of the Code of the Ethics and/or MLS Rules can be filed against an OCR REALTOR® Member. The Grievance Complaint alleging only MLS Rules violations can be filed against any MLS-Only Subscriber.
Determine which article of the Code of Ethics is violated and check the appropriate box on the face of the complaint. The REALTORS® Code of Ethics consists of seventeen (17) Articles. Your complaint should include a narrative description 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 may have been violated. Hearing panels decide whether the Articles expressly cited in complaints were violated.
In the opening paragraph of your complaint, please state the name of the Orange County REALTORS® member that you are filing against, give the name of the company the member is/was affiliated with at the time of the incident, and the address of the property involved. If anyone other than a designated REALTOR® (Broker of Record) is named as the respondent in a complaint alleging ethical misconduct, that individual’s designated REALTOR®, as defined by the Association bylaws, at the time of the acts giving rise to the complaint may, but is not required to be named as a respondent.
Your written complaint goes before the Ethics/MLS Review Committee which determines whether allegations in the Complaint support violations of the Code of Ethics and/or MLS Rules quoted in the Complaint.
You may email the Grievance Complaint Forms and attach your documentation. We will also need a signed original and six (6) copies of your complaint and all attachments or exhibits. Include photocopies of all documents pertinent to the transaction (i.e. deposit receipts, listing agreements, telephone log, correspondence, etc.). Insufficient documentation could affect the outcome of the review.
Need Help? Consult an Ethics Advocate
Any party may be represented by legal counsel or by a REALTOR® (or both) at any ethics hearing, including reviews, even where the hearing will occur in the party’s absence.
The Orange County Association of REALTORS® has an Ethics Advocate (EA) program. Through this program, a group of REALTOR® members have been specially trained to represent parties during the disciplinary process.
The role of an EA may include preparation for hearing, including the preparation of forms and assembly of evidence; representation at the hearing, including the making of opening and closing statements on behalf of the party represented at the hearing, examining and cross examining witnesses, and introducing affidavits, documents and other relevant evidence, and representation at any rehearings or review hearings, but does not include testifying as a witness.
In the event the parties do not give fifteen (15) days notice of their intention to have legal counsel or EA representation to the Association and all other parties, the hearing may be continued, and the party giving late notice may be assessed a continuance fee.
There is no cost to a party for use of an EA. However, please note that even though the EA performs a role similar to legal counsel, the EA is not an attorney and is not allowed to practice law.