Designated REALTOR®/MLS Participant as a Respondent in an Ethics/MLS Rules Violation Complaint
Corporate Legal Services Tel (213) 739-8200 Fax (213) 480-7724 June 16, 2011 (revised)
Under NAR policy, the designated REALTOR® for a real estate firm is responsible to the local association for the ethical conduct of the agents employed by or affiliated with the firm. In addition, the California Model MLS Rules obligate the MLS participant to be responsible to the MLS for alleged rules violations by subscribers affiliated with the MLS participant. The following questions and answers are intended to address some of the main questions that arise as a result of these rules.
Q 1. Does the designated REALTOR® have to be named as a respondent in an ethics complaint?
A No. While a designated REALTOR® may be named as a respondent in an ethics complaint involving one or more agents of the firm, no rule requires the designated REALTOR® to be "automatically" named as a respondent in an ethics complaint.
Q 2. Who determines whether the designated REALTOR® is named as a respondent in an ethics complaint?
A The complainant, or the Grievance Committee on its own motion, have the option to name the designated REALTOR® as a respondent in an ethics complaint.
Q 3. Why does the Grievance Committee have the option to name the designated REALTOR® as a respondent in an ethics complaint?
A The role of the Grievance Committee in reviewing ethics complaints is to determine whether the alleged facts, if accepted as true, implicate the Code of Ethics. This includes making sure that all parties involved in the matter are properly named in the complaint.Therefore, if upon review of an ethics complaint, the Grievance Committee feels the alleged facts implicate the designated REALTOR® and the designated REALTOR® was not named in the complaint, the Grievance Committee can amend the complaint and add the designated REALTOR® as a named respondent. However, the complainant must accept the amendment, otherwise, the Grievance Committee will have to join as a co-complainant.
Q 4. If a designated REALTOR® is not named as a respondent, is he or she still notified of the complaint, the response, the hearing date, etc.?
A Yes. If a complaint is filed against a member but the member’s designated REALTOR® is not named as a respondent, the designated REALTOR® is still entitled to receive all pertinent information related to the complaint, including a copy of the complaint, the response, notice of the hearing date, any decision rendered by the professional standards panel, and any final action taken by the association's Board of Directors.
Q 5. If a designated REALTOR® is not named as a respondent, can he or she still consult or advise their agent, attend the hearing, and give evidence or testimony at the hearing?
A Yes. Even if the designated REALTOR® is not formally named as a respondent, he or she still has the right to consult or advise the agents named as respondents and may attend the entire hearing and present evidence or testimony in their defense.
Q 6. If a respondent changes firms after the complaint is filed, does the new designated REALTOR® have a right to be notified of the complaint, the response, the hearing date, etc.?
A Yes. The new designated REALTOR® is entitled to receive all information regarding the complaint.
Q 7. If a respondent changes designated REALTORS® after the complaint is filed, does the former designated REALTOR® still have a right to be notified of the progress of the complaint?
A Yes. If the former designated REALTOR® wishes to be kept informed regarding the progress of the complaint, he or she has the right to receive all future information regarding the complaint. However, if the former designated REALTOR® no longer desires such information, he or she can request the association to stop sending the information.
Q 8. As far as MLS rules violation complaints are concerned, are the rules the same for MLS participants?
A Yes. The procedures used to process MLS rules violation complaints are the same as those used for ethics complaints. Therefore, the issues surrounding whether the MLS participant is named in the complaint and the participant's right to be notified of the complaint, advise their subscriber, attend the hearing, etc., are handled in the same manner.
Q 9. Where can readers get more information?
A This legal article is just one of the many legal publications and services offered by C.A.R. to its members. For a complete listing of C.A.R.'s legal products and services, please visit car.org.
Readers who require specific advice should consult an attorney. C.A.R. members requiring legal assistance may contact C.A.R.'s Member Legal Hotline at (213) 739-8282, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. C.A.R. members who are broker-owners, office managers, or Designated REALTORS® may contact the Member Legal Hotline at (213) 739-8350 to receive expedited service. Members may also submit online requests to speak with an attorney on the Member Legal Hotline by going to http://www.car.org/legal/legal-hotline-access/. Written correspondence should be addressed to:
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Member Legal Services 525 South Virgil Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90020
The information contained herein is believed accurate as of June 16, 2011. It is intended to provide general answers to general questions and is not intended as a substitute for individual legal advice. Advice in specific situations may differ depending upon a wide variety of factors. Therefore, readers with specific legal questions should seek the advice of an attorney.