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Texas Realtors: How the Code of Ethics Complaint Process Works

Texas professional license defenseThe Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) is the regulatory body for all real estate professionals in Texas, including real estate sales agents, brokers, and real estate inspectors. TREC was established by the Texas Legislature. This is the licensing entity in Texas that handles complaints lodged against any professional real estate license holder.

The Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) is a professional membership association. Its mission is to promote and protect private-property ownership and rights, keep home ownership affordable, and advocate for Texas REALTORS® and property owners.

While all real estate professionals in Texas must be licensed by TREC, becoming a member of the Texas Association of Realtors is optional. However, if a licensed real estate agent or broker joins TAR, then they are required by the association to follow the Code of Ethics.

The Texas Association of Realtors Code of Ethics Complaint Process

The Code of Ethics outlines a real estate professional's obligations to clients, colleagues, and the general public.

Anyone who believes a realtor or broker has violated the Code of Ethics may file a complaint with TAR. A hearing panel determines whether the Code has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. TREC is the state agency in charge of handling allegations involving violations of Texas law or real estate regulations.

If it is determined that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred, then TAR will discipline the agent or broker. Disciplinary measures range from a mandate to complete education courses to more severe forms of discipline, including fines, suspension, and membership termination. TAR only deals with complaints made against members of the association. Further, TAR cannot revoke an individual's real estate license.

When a complaint is lodged with TAR alleging a violation of the Code of Ethics, an Ombudsman is first offered to informally resolve the dispute. If the Ombudsman service is declined or is unsuccessful, then the complaint is sent to a three member grievance tribunal. This group will determine whether to proceed through the process or dismiss the complaint.

If the grievance tribunal decides to proceed, then it will decide whether the complaint meets the criteria for issuing a citation, which includes a mandate to take Code of Ethics training and pay a $300 fine for a first offense, $600 for a second, and $900 for a third. The respondent (Association member) can either accept the citation or request a hearing.

In instances when a citation is not appropriate, the grievance tribunal decides is the complaint should be forwarded to hearing. If so, then formal mediation is offered. If mediation is declines or is unsuccessful, then the complaint proceeds to hearing. The professional standards hearing panel process can take up to six months to complete.

Complaints Against Texas Real Estate Professionals

Understand that even though the Texas Association of Realtors can kick you out of their organization, it cannot suspend or revoke your real estate license. Only the Texas Real Estate Commission has the authority to issue, revoke, or suspend real estate licenses in Texas.

If you are facing a complaint for a Code of Ethics violation with TAR, you may also be facing a complaint filed with the Texas Real Estate Commission. A person willing to file a complaint with one organization may file complaints with both.

Defending Your Professional Real Estate License

If you are under investigation by the Texas Real Estate Commission, we can help. Talk to an experienced attorney who understands all aspects of a real estate license complaint case. The lawyers at BERTOLINO LLP know how to carefully research every potential complaint. We know where to look for evidence and how to use that information to build a successful legal strategy.

If you are facing disciplinary action from the Texas Real Estate Commission contact us today or call (800) 210-0126 and schedule a case evaluation.

BERTOLINO LLP proudly represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. To best serve our clients we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.

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Attorney Tony R. Bertolino is the Managing Partner with Bertolino LLP. Our law firm has been able to help people across the state of Texas. If you need an experienced lawyer to represent you, contact Bertolino LLP today.

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