It is very important to employ honest communication practices with clients and consumers, while always keeping in mind agency duties to protect information that is confidential to your client. Also, good file documentation is important to a successful and complaint-free practice. You should follow your written office procedures as set forth in your office policy manual. (IAR has a sample office policy drafted by IAR legal counsel that is available for members and can be used as a template for your office policy.) If your office does not have a policy manual, it should. If you are not the managing broker in your office, encourage your managing broker to consider drafting one for you and your fellow licensees to follow. Review your agency duties set forth in Section 15-15 of the Act. Always take advantage of meaningful, quality educational opportunities.
Inform your managing broker right away. He or she should be actively concerned because the managing broker's license could be on the line too. If you are contacted by enforcement personnel from IDFPR, consult with your attorney about your response to the first call. If IDFPR has received a complaint about your actions, someone from IDFPR will likely consult with you by phone and then, based on your response, will consider whether the complaint will proceed any further. If IDFPR believes that complaint is frivolous or without merit, it might close the case at that point.
On the other hand, IDFPR believes there has been a potential violation of the Act or its rules, it will proceed to a hearing on the matter. You will have an opportunity to present your case and you would be allowed to have legal counsel represent you. If the hearing panel finds that you have violated the Act or its rules, it would give a written explanation of its findings and recommendations for redress. Discipline can include suspension of license, a monetary fine not to exceed $25,000 (per occurrence), or revocation of license just to name a few. Occasionally, the licensee respondent and IDFPR will reach some type of settlement that would be outlined in a Consent Order. If the complaint involves a breach of the public trust, IDFPR does have the power to summarily suspend a license on an emergency basis pending a full hearing on the merits. If a licensee is found to have violated fair housing laws or regulations, his license will be supsended or revoked by IDFPR.
Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, make reasonable efforts to communicate to your real estate professional or the managing broker in the firm. If these efforts are not successful, then each local association has a complaint process for individuals wishing to file complaints for alleged violations of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Once you have determined that the individual you wish to file a complaint against is a member of that local association, you will need to file a written complaint.
Need help in resolving a dispute with a REALTOR®?
The Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) has a Consumer Help Line to try and resolve questions relating to real estate transactions.
If you believe the individual with whom you are working has violated the License Act, contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) enforcement personnel at 312/793-8704 to file a written complaint or click here to submit the online complaint intake form.
In order to determine if someone has a current real estate license in Illinois, you should visit the IDFPR Web site.
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