General Instructions for Filing an Ethics Complaint
This information from the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association (BARA) is designed to help you
understand the professional standards process. This summarizes portions of a more detailed procedure
manual that is updated annually by the National Association of REALTORS®. To the extent this
information conflicts with that manual and any of its subsequent revisions, BARA must follow the
requirements of the NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. Please remember that we administer this program and can answer procedural questions, we do not give either party legal or other advice.
Is your complaint against a REALTOR®?
Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. Only those who belong to their local board/association of
REALTORS® and have agreed, as a continuing condition of membership, to abide by a strict, enforceable
Code of Ethics may use the term REALTOR®. It is because of this obligation that you can file a complaint
with a local board/association of REALTORS®. Please call to determine if the agent involved is a current,
active REALTOR® or was a REALTOR® at the time of the alleged violation.
Does it concern ethics or arbitration?
You should determine whether this is an ethics matter, an arbitration of a business dispute, or both.
Ethics: In an ethics complaint, you are alleging that a REALTOR® violated one or more Articles
of the Code of Ethics.
Arbitration: Arbitration is the process for resolving a contractual business dispute growing out
of a real estate transaction that the parties have been unable to resolve themselves.
Please file Ethics and Arbitration separately. If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration,
BARA will administer the arbitration first. The ethics complaint will be administered after the
conclusion of the arbitration. Both should be filed within the required timeframe.
Who may file an ethics complaint?
Anyone can file an ethics complaint. However, the complaint must:
1. Allege a violation of a specific article(s) of the Code of Ethics;
2. Present the complaint form with the date and signature of the complainant;
3. Include a narrative of the facts surrounding the case;
4. Include all necessary supporting documentation, such as listing agreements, letters, purchase
offers, copies of e-mail correspondence, etc..
5. Be filed within 180 days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been
known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within 180 days after the conclusion of the
transaction, whichever is later.
6. Be filed with the association having jurisdiction over the individual named in the complaint.
Please contact your local Board/Association of REALTORS® to verify membership prior to
submitting an ethics complaint.
7. Oral complaints or those complaints which do not cite an Article of the Code of Ethics cannot
8. There is no filing fee for an ethics complaint.
How do you file an Ethics Complaint?
Follow these steps to file an ethics complaint:
1. Complete, sign and date the Ethics Complaint Form (E-1) which requires you to name the
REALTOR® in question as the “respondent(s)”. Click HERE for the Ethics Complaint Form (E-1)
2. You will want to review the Code of Ethics. The Code is the standard by which the Grievance
Committee of the Board reviews allegations of potential violations. The Articles in the Code of
Ethics are the specific obligations that can subject the member to disciplinary action after a due
process hearing. List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics you believe the REALTOR® has
violated. Standards of Practice may be cited in support of a charged Article(s) but may not be
cited individually. Click HERE for the Code of Ethics
3. Attach a detailed, typed explanation of the circumstances and facts surrounding your complaint.
Be as specific as possible. State what, when, where, why, and how you think an Article was
violated and include the date you became aware there was a potential problem.
4. Attach legible copies of all pertinent document such as listing agreements, sale and purchase
agreements, letters, contract addendums, etc. Please send a copy of this information and not
originals and keep a copy for your own files. Please make sure that your documentation is
pertinent, readable, and executed (if applicable).
5. Send the entire package (marked CONFIDENTIAL) to BARA’s Certified Professional
Standards Administrator, Veronica Precella. The office address is 4790 Table Mesa Drive #200, Boulder, CO 80305
6. If the Grievance Committee forwards your case to a formal Hearing, the Boulder Area
REALTOR® Association will not prosecute for you nor defend you. As Complainant, it is your
responsibility to attend the Hearing and provide the necessary evidence and witnesses to support
What authority does BARA have in ethics?
BARA has limited authority regarding its members.
1. In ethics complaints, BARA cannot require members to pay complainants any monetary
damages or punitive awards, nor can it require payment for repairs or replacement. Complainants
seeking monetary awards must seek action in civil court.
2. BARA cannot try a member for violations of real estate law or regulations or for other alleged
violations of the law. Its jurisdiction covers only violation of membership duties and the Code of
3. The Association does not hear complaints regarding alleged violation of the real estate license law
or any other alleged violation of law. You may contact the Colorado Real Estate Commission at
303-894-2166 if you feel there has been a violation of license law. BARA cannot suspend or
terminate the real estate license of one of its members.
4. If criminal litigation is pending related to the same transaction, the Grievance Committee shall
cease its considerations and the complaint will be on hold until such time as the criminal litigation
5. If civil litigation is pending, the Board shall consult with Board counsel for review of the
complaint to advise if the hearing should proceed or be held until the pending litigation or
regulatory or administrative proceeding is concluded.
6. Please be advised that if a member of the REALTOR® Association is found in violation of an
Article(s) of the Code of Ethics, one or more of the following sanctions may be imposed:
(a) Letter of Warning or Letter of Reprimand with copy to be placed in member's file;
(b) Requirement that member attend an Ethics and Professional Practices Course or other
appropriate course or seminar specified by the Hearing Panel;
(c) Appropriate and reasonable fine not to exceed $5,000; (Fines are not paid to the Complainant in any
(d) Member placed on probation or suspended for a stated period of time;
(e) Expulsion of individual from membership from BARA;
A detailed list of sanctions and their provisions can be found in the NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
If you want to file an ethics complaint against a member of a different REALTOR board, contact CAR to find where to file or find more information here: http://www.coloradorealtors.com/legal-help/file-a-complaint/
BARA’s ethics and arbitration enforcement program follows the specific processes and procedures of the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. For more information on those processes and procedures, click here: https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/governing-documents/code-of-ethics/ethics-complaints-arbitration-requests-and-related-information