2018 Changes to Options for Publishing Names of Code of Ethics Violators

At their May, 2018 meeting, the NAR Board of Directors expanded the publication options available to associations for publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators. This page and its resources are being provided in response to requests from local and state association staff.

The Changes

Policy Statement 45, Publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, has provided associations with the option to publish names of Code of Ethics violators in certain circumstances since 1999. 

At their May, 2018 meeting, the Professional Standards Committee recommended, and the Board of Directors approved, changes to Policy Statement 45 to broaden the ability of associations to publish the names of Code of Ethics violators. These changes codified what had been a pilot program for the California Association of REALTORS®. 

The revisions to Policy Statement 45 appear below (strikeouts indicate deletions, underscoring indicates additions):

45. Publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators

Boards and Associations may, as a matter of local discretion, adopt one of the following procedures options authorizing the publication of the names of ethics violators, subject to the following qualifications:

Publication Option #1:

  • Publication can only occur after a second violation occurs within three (3) years.
  • Ethics citation discipline is not included in the violation count unless the association has affirmatively authorized publication within their citation policy.
  • Publication can only be made in an official communication vehicle intended primarily for members of the Board Association (or Boards) in which the violator holds (held) membership. Where the official communication vehicle is electronic or Internet-based, access must be limited to Board Association members. (Amended 11/04)
  • The name of the firm the violator is (or was) licensed with cannot be published.
  • Publication must be consistent and uniform. This means that publication may not occur selectively but must be used in each instance where a second violation is determined within three (3) years.
  • Other than the violator’s name, the only additional information that may be published is the Article (or Articles) violated, and the discipline imposed, except that in cases where the violator’s name is similar to another member’s name, the violator’s license number or office address (or both) may also be published. (Amended 11/99)
  • At least one of the violations must be based on conduct which occurs after the adoption of these the Association’s publication procedures. (Adopted 2/99)

Associations may adopt Publication Option #1 and may increase the timeframe with which publication occurs for certain discipline, the content of the publication to include photos or a description of the violation(s), or any combination thereof, only to the extent that is permissible under Publication Option #2. Any program that exceeds the scope of Publication Option #1, as defined above, must include local or state association legal counsel review of the decision, discipline, and information to be published. 

Publication Option #2:

  • Publication can occur in all instances in which violators are disciplined with a letter of reprimand, a fine (ethics citation fines are not included in publications unless the association has affirmatively adopted policy to include them), a suspension, and/or an expulsion.
  • Prior to publication, local or state association legal counsel must review the decision, discipline, and information to be published.
  • Publication can only be made in an official communication vehicle intended primarily for members of the Association(s) in which the violator holds (held) membership. Where the official communication vehicle is electronic or internet-based, access must be limited to Association members. 
  • The name of the firm the violator is (or was) licensed with cannot be published.
  • Publication must be consistent and uniform. This means that publication may not occur selectively but must be used in each instance where the discipline imposed meets the Association’s publication criteria.
  • Other than the violator’s name and a photo of the violator, the only additional information that may be published is the Article(s) violated, a description of the violation(s) with all names redacted except for the name of the violator, and the discipline imposed, except that in cases where the violator’s name is similar to another member’s name, the violator’s license number or office address (or both) may also be published.
  • Publication must be based on conduct which occurs after the adoption of the Association’s publication procedures.

Corresponding revisions were made to several other sections of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual consistent with the changes above. 

Resources

Associations are free to use the resources provided below and created by the California Association of REALTORS®. These notices are shared with the permission of the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR). They were used when CAR began their Publication Pilot Program, and have not been modified. 

Prior to using, please review the notices carefully to ensure all content is appropriate for your Association and consistent with National Association policies, and review with counsel to ensure adequate notice of the adoption of a publication program consistent with Policy Statement 45, Publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual

Please note revisions to Policy Statement 45 adopted by the NAR Board of Directors in May of 2018 do not go into effect until January 1, 2019. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions on the changes to publication options for more information. 

FAQ

1. What was changed?

Policy Statement 45, Publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, has provided associations with the option to publish names of Code of Ethics violators in certain circumstances since 1999. 

At their May, 2018 meeting, the Professional Standards Committee recommended, and the Board of Directors approved, changes to Policy Statement 45 to broaden the ability of associations to publish the names of Code of Ethics violators. These changes codified what had been a pilot program for the California Association of REALTORS®. 

The revisions to Policy Statement 45 appear above. 

2. When do the revisions go into effect?

January 1, 2019.

3. Does our association have to publish the names of Code of Ethics violators?

Absolutely not. It is completely at the discretion of the association.

4. What steps does our association need to take before we can start publishing the names of Code of Ethics violators? 

Ensure your association has the authority to publish the names of Code of Ethics violators by having your Board of Directors adopt one of the options in Policy Statement 45, or a customization of Option #1 to the extent permitted in the Policy Statement. 

It is strongly recommended that your association provide notice to its membership that publication of the names of Code of Ethics violators has been adopted, and the circumstances in which violation of the Code of Ethics could result in publication of the violators name and other information. 

5. When can our association start publishing consistent with Option #2?

Associations should only publish consistent with Option #2 for ethics cases filed after January 1, 2019. 

6. What are the basic differences between Options #1 and #2?

Option #1 authorizes publication of a violator’s name, the Articles violated, and the discipline imposed only. Publication can occur regardless of the type of discipline after a second violation occurs in a three year period.

Option #2 authorizes publication of a violator’s name, photograph, the Articles violated, a description of the violation and the discipline imposed every time there is a violation. However, publication under this option can only occur when the discipline imposed for the violation is a letter of reprimand, a fine, a suspension, or expulsion. 

7. Can we publish violations of our MLS Rules?

Policy Statement 45 only authorizes publication of Code of Ethics violators. 

8. Where can we publish information on Code of Ethics violators?

Publication can only be made in an official communication vehicle intended primarily for members of the Association(s) in which the violator holds (held) membership. Where the official communication vehicle is electronic or internet-based, access must be limited to Association members. 

9. Is the name of the firm published?

The name of the firm the violator is (or was) licensed with cannot be published.

10. Can publication occur for the first violation of the Code of Ethics? 

Only if the discipline imposed was a letter of reprimand, a fine, a suspension, or expulsion consistent with the requirements of Option #2. 

11. Doesn’t publication for the first violation of the Code of Ethics harm new agents who may have inadvertently violated the Code?

Publication may only occur for the first violation if the discipline imposed was a letter of reprimand, a fine, a suspension, or expulsion consistent with the requirements of Option #2. Publication may not occur for the first violation if the discipline imposed was a letter of warning or education. Consistent with the Sanctioning Guidelines in Appendix VII to Part Four of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, if the violation was the first offense on the part of the agent, if it was inadvertent, and if the agent expresses remorse, discipline would likely be a letter of warning or education such that the violation would not be published for the first offense. 

12. Is the name of the complainant included in the publication?

No. If the association has adopted Option #2 and includes a description of the violation, all names shall be redacted except the name of the violator. 

13. Can our association publish names only, no photographs, but every time there is a violation of the Code of Ethics, not just after the second violation in three years? 

Yes. Associations may adopt Publication Option #1 and may publish every violation, however the scope of Option #2 cannot be exceeded. Put simply, if an association wanted to publish every violation, publish the name of the individual and a photograph, or the name of the individual and  a description of the violation, for example, publication may only occur where the discipline imposed is a letter of reprimand, a fine, a suspension, or an expulsion. Any program that exceeds the scope of Publication Option #1, as defined above, must include local or state association legal counsel review of the decision, discipline, and information to be published. 

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