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The Legal Blog, brought to you by NVAR's Professional Standards department, helps you stay on top of the latest rules and regulations in the industry.

Confidential Ethics Enforcement

By:
  • Nisha Thakker
Mar 1, 2017

Some Article 12 Complainants May Remain Anonymous to Alleged Violator

On January 1, NVAR and five neighboring Realtor® Associations announced the opportunity for certain Article 12 violation allegations under the Code of Ethics to be filed anonymously. The complainant’s identity will not be revealed to the Respondent, except as indicated below. Here are some questions we’ve been receiving about this new program.

Q: How do I file a complaint against a Realtor®?
A: Simply go to casepro.nvar.com/ethics and complete the required information. Be as detailed as possible when submitting your complaint, and include all supporting documentation. You must complete the entire process at one time. The system will not save your work for completion later. Once you click submit, NVAR’s Professional Standards staff will add it to the next Grievance Committee meeting.

Q: Can I file any complaint anonymously?
A: No. Only certain allegations under Article 12 of the Code of Ethics are eligible for anonymous filing. If you add any non-eligible allegations to your complaint, your request for anonymity will be rejected. For eligible allegations, your name will remain anonymous from the Respondent and committee members only, not NVAR Professional Standards staff.

Q: Okay, so which allegations are eligible?
A: The following allegations are eligible for anonymous complaint filing:
Article 12 Failure to disclose professional status in advertising or other real estate communications

SOP 12-4 Advertisement offering to sell/lease property without the authority of the owner or the listing broker

SOP 12-5 Failure to disclose name of firm in advertisement for listed property or for real
estate services

SOP 12-6 Failing to disclose status as both owner/landlord and Realtor® or licensee when advertising property in which Realtor® has ownership interest

SOP 12-9 Failure to disclose firm name and state of licensure on Realtor® website

SOP 12-13 Representing that the Realtor® has a designation, certification or other credential that he or she is not entitled to use

Q: Why are those the only ones eligible?

A: The participating Realtor® associations determined that these types of complaints can be supported with visual documentation (a screenshot or picture), which will allow the Grievance Committee to make an informed decision when issuing the citation against the Respondent.

Q: Is my anonymity guaranteed?
A: Famous words from legal counsel – it depends. All of the allegations that may be filed anonymously are also eligible for the Citation System. Should the Respondent choose to pay the citation, your identity will remain concealed from the Respondent. However, if the Respondent elects to go to a hearing instead of paying the fine, NVAR Professional Standards staff will contact you to determine if you are willing to attend the hearing. If you do not wish to reveal your identity to the Respondent, the Grievance Committee will take on the role of Complainant.

Q: What if the Respondent has multiple violations already?
A: The rules for the Citation System state that a citation may not be issued to a Realtor® who has received three citations in the preceding three years. So, if you are filing an anonymous complaint against a member who has already been issued three citations in three years, NVAR Professional Standards staff will notify you that your complaint will not be able to proceed through the Citation System and must go to a Professional Standards hearing.

Q: What if the Respondent is not a member of NVAR?
A: Anonymous complaint filing is available to complainants at the six northern Virginia Realtor® associations. These are: NVAR, GPAAR, DAAR, FAAR, BRAR, and PWAR. To file at one of the other local associations, please contact that association’s Professional Standards department.
Group(s):
  • Real Estate Laws