Ethics Hearing Officers
The document details the four (4) hearing officer options which may be adopted locally to supplement the hearing procedures established in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Part Four of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual details the procedures for conducting hearings to determine alleged violations of the Code of Ethics and other membership duties. Traditionally, and pursuant to the procedures in the Manual, hearings have been conducted by panels of REALTOR® members of the Professional Standards Committee, with a panel chair appointed by the Chair of the committee.
Any of the following four (4) hearing officer options may be adopted locally to supplement the hearing procedures in the Manual. It is important to note that authorizing use of hearing officers supplements and is not a substitute for the Manual’s ethics hearing procedures.
Role of hearing officers
Local boards/associations electing to implement the hearing officer concept in their ethics enforcement processes will need to choose one of the following:
1. REALTOR® hearing officer(s) who chairs ethics hearing panels of the Professional Standards Committee (either as an employee or as a volunteer).
2. Staff hearing officer(s) who chairs ethics hearing panels of the Professional Standards Committee.
3. REALTOR® hearing officer(s) who sits alone and conducts ethics hearings.
4. Staff hearing officers(s) who sits alone and conducts ethics hearings.
Right of respondent to hearing before a hearing panel
Where a board/association routinely utilizes hearing officers (either REALTOR® or staff) sitting alone, complainants and respondents retain the right to have complaints considered by a panel composed of members of the local Professional Standards Committee.
Qualification and criteria for hearing officers
Boards and associations have considerable latitude in establishing criteria that hearing officers must satisfy on an ongoing basis.
At a minimum, hearing officers must be thoroughly familiar with the Code of Ethics, state real estate regulations, and current real estate practice. Hearing officers may also be required to periodically complete ethics or procedural training determined locally (e.g. seminars conducted by state or national associations, “distance learning” programs, including the Professional Standards component of NAR’s Advanced Administrative Concepts program, etc.).
Since enforcement of the Code of Ethics is an expressed duty of the local Professional Standards Committee, hearing officers will act on behalf of and under the supervision of the Professional Standards Committee.
Conduct of hearings
The procedures for hearings under the hearing officer concept are those established in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. In boards and associations using hearing officers sitting alone, references to “hearing panels” shall be construed as meaning the hearing officers.
Errors & Omissions Insurance Coverage
Compensated hearing officers, whether REALTORS® or staff, are covered under the board’s blanket errors and omissions insurance if they are full or part-time employees of the board. Hearing officers who are not full or part-time employees are not covered and should consider securing their own professional liability insurance.