CAR panel says it’s ethical to violate Illinois law

Last Thursday an Ethics Hearing Panel of the Professional Standards Committee of the Chicago Association of Realtors (“CAR”) heard my complaint that a Realtor had violated Standard of Practice 12-4 of the Realtor Code of Ethics by advertising a property for rent without authority.

My complaint had been filed on April 13 and related to ads appearing on that date. At the hearing the Realtor testified under oath that he had been given verbal authority on April 1 to advertise the property by a representative of the property. I presented an email from the property manager dated April 13 advising me that the Realtor did not have authority to advertise the property.

The Realtor’s attorney presented a copy of a brokerage agreement dated as of April 21 but not signed by a representative of the property until May 21. The brokerage agreement authorized the Realtor to advertise the property only on his own website. Ads on the broker’s website formed the basis of my ethics complaint.

Standard of Practice 12-4 of the Realtor Code of Ethics dictates that Realtors “shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without authority.” The Illinois Real Estate License Act, 225 ILCS 454/20-20 (26), prohibits licensees from “advertising by any means that any property is for sale or for rent without the written consent of the owner or his or her authorized agent.”

The brokerage agreement provided by the Realtor’s attorney is incontrovertible proof that the Realtor did not have the written authority that state law requires to advertise the property until May 21, the date it was accepted by the property.

The hearing panel’s findings of fact accepted the Realtor’s claims of verbal authority and also found that I had presented no evidence that the Realtor did not have authority. The panel apparently accepted the Realtor’s attorney’s contention that the email I presented from the property manager was hearsay and did not accept my contention that the Realtor’s reports of a conversation with a representative of the property were hearsay.

The hearing panel decided that the Realtor had not violated Standard of Practice 12-4 of the Realtor Code of Ethics. The decision, in effect, says that a Realtor is acting ethically while violating state law requiring written authority to advertise.

Prior to the hearing I had not been provided the name of the person at the property who purportedly gave the Realtor verbal authority to advertise. I contacted that person immediately after the hearing and was told that no such authority had been given. The Realtor had lied under oath to the Ethics Hearing Panel.

I’ve written repeatedly about CAR’s unserious approach to its Code of Ethics. Based on the decision of its hearing panel, CAR apparently has an equally unserious approach to a Realtor’s obligations to comply with Illinois law.

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