REALTORS have a code of ethics, Established in 1913 and updated often. A series of rules that REALTORS have to follow. There is a process for filing ethics complaints when those rules are violated.
Last week the National Association of Realtors added a new rule to the code of ethics:
“Realtors must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
The rule applies to social media to all accounts, for business and for personal and it applies all the time.
It makes sense because it would be hard to be a fair housing advocate by day and a bigot on social media at night. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram prohibit hate speech.
There is a rule against discrimination and it has been around for a long time:
“REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)”
Age discrimination isn’t included in the REALTOR Code of ethics but since I do write the StPaulRealEstateBlog.com I want to point out that in St. Paul age discrimination is illegal and that applies to housing and to all businesses in St. Paul.
The way the COE is enforced is through a system of complaints and hearings. Anyone can file an ethics complaint against a REALTOR through that REALTOR’s state association. Here in Minnesota, complaints can be filed with Minnesota Realtors. and most of the time they are filed by Realtors.
If a member violates the code of ethics anyone can file an ethics complaint against them. Penalties for persons found to be in violation of the ethics codes range from mandatory training classes to fines to suspension or even expulsion from the National Association.