Guide to Filing Ethics Complaints / Arbitration Requests
Who Can File a Complaint?
An ethics complaint may be filed against a REALTOR® member of an Association by anyone. Not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. Only those who belong to an Association can use the term REALTOR®. By joining an Association, all members agree to abide by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics as a condition of membership. It is because of their obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics that a complaint may be filed. Please contact your Association office to determine whether the real estate agent involved is a REALTOR® member.
Is it an Ethics Complaint or an Arbitration Request?
Ethics – charges that a REALTOR® has violated and Article(s) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics.
Arbitration – a dispute arising out of a real estate transaction, usually a commission dispute. If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, they will be handled separately. Arbitration cases are always processed first. Only when the arbitration is completed, will the ethics complaint be considered.
Filing an Ethics Complaint / Arbitration Request
1. Complete and sign the ethics complaint form, or request for arbitration form supplied by our office, indicating the name(s) of the person/people (Respondent) that you are filing against.
2. List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics you think the REALTOR® has violated, using the the Code supplied in the filing packet supplied by our office. In an arbitration request, Article 17 will be the only code sited.
3. Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be specific, stating what, where, when, why, and how you think the Article was violated.
4. Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sale agreements, addendums, etc.
5. Return the completed filing packet to the Association office. Contact the Professional Standards Administrator with any questions or concerns.
There are two committees of the Association that handle complaints. The Grievance Committee reviews the complaint first to determine if a hearing is needed. The Professional Standards Committee is the source of the panel to hear the complaint and render a decision. Hearing Panel decisions are reviewed by Association legal counsel prior to release to the parties involved.
The Grievance Committee reviews complaints and determines whether the complaint has sufficient merit for further consideration. It does not determine guilt or innocence. The Grievance Committee may decide as follows: •forward the case for a hearing
•dismiss the case if the complaint does not concern possible violation of the Code of Ethics
•postpone its decision, based on obtaining more information before a determination can be made
In the Event Your Case is Forwarded on to a Hearing
•The Respondent will be notified and a reply requested
•All parties will be sent a list of the Hearing Panel selected from the Professional Standards Committee along with a form to challenge any of the members serving on the hearing panel
•All parties will be given 21 days notice of the hearing date
•An Outline of Procedures will be included in materials sent prior to the hearing
The function of the Professional Standards Committee is to hold ethics and arbitration hearings. Hearings provide an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain “his/her side of the story” by presenting testimony and witnesses, if any. Once all the facts have been presented, the Hearing Panel will determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, or in the case of arbitration, how the dispute should be settled.
What the Association Can and Cannot Do
In the case of Ethics violations, (money damages may not be a part of an ethics proceeding) the Association may discipline REALTOR® members in one or more of the following ways:
•letter of warning or reprimand
•direct the member to attend additional ethics training
•place the member on probation from the Association
•suspend Association membership
•expel the member from the Association
•fine the member up to $2,500
A REALTOR® Association does have limitations to its authority. An Association cannot try a member for violation of the law or any alleged violations of the law. An Association cannot suspend or terminate a state agency issued real estate license. The Oregon Real Estate Agency has jurisdiction over real estate licenses and should be contacted for violations of the law at 503-378-4170 – Salem, Oregon. Contact your Association’s Professional Standards Administrator for any questions you may have regarding the complaint filing process.
2018 Professional Standards Committee
Chair, Doug Archibald- Don Nunamaker Realtors
Vickie Ellett – Windermere GTRE The Dalles
Shirley Cox – Pacific Rim Brokers
Sandy Dean – John L Scott Columbia Gorge
Matt Rankin RE/MAX River City
Lisa Nelson – Don Nunamaker, Realtors
Jim Wilcox – Columbia River Properties
Dawn McSweyn – Windermere GTRE Hood River
Becky Schertenleib – Columbia Gorge Real Estate
Brenda Kinder – John L Scott Columbia Gorge
Jennifer Mitchell – Dryside Property
Jeremy Denny – Pacific Rim Brokers