Processing a Complaint
Two Committees of the Association handle the complaints -- The Grievance Committee and the Professional Standards Committee. Their functions are described next.
What is the Grievance Committee?
Generally, the Grievance Committee functions somewhat like a grand jury. However, it plays a different role in both an ethics complaint case and an arbitration case.
Ethics - The Grievance Committee reveiws complaints received by the Association. The Committee determines whether the complaint sufficiently merits further consideration. It does not determine guilt or innocence. After reviewing the complaint the committee will either:
- Forward the case for a hearing
- Dismiss it, if the complaint is determined to be frivolous, harrassing or unfounded, or
- Postpone its decision to get more information from you or to determine that the case may be more appropriately considered for arbitration.
Also, before they reach a decision, the Committee may request a reply from the Respondent(s) regarding your complaint. If the Committee dismisses your complaint, you have the right to appeal dismissal to the Board of Directors. In the case of an appeal, the Directors re-examine only the materials submitted to the Grievance Committee. The Directors can then either uphold or overturn the Committee's decision. If your complaint merits further consideration, it will be sent to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing.
Arbitration - The Grievance Committee's role in arbitration functions only to make a preliminary investigation. The results of this investigation will determine whether the matter is subject to arbitration. Arbitration is sometimes a duty and sometimes a privilege. The Grievance Committee must decide whether your situation fits into the duty or the privilege category.To determine which category an arbitration fits into, the Grievance Committee must consider these four points:
- Whether you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke arbitration.
- Whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter.
- Whether the arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved (this simply means whether arbitrating the dispute is compulsory, or not).
- Whether either the amount in dispute is too small or too large, or the matter is too legally complex for the Association to consider.
Such a review could result in releasing Association members from their obligation to arbitrate. This would free you to seek other recourse in order to resolve the dispute.
If the Grievance Committee determines that a matter is arbitrable, it may also notify the parties that a mediation procedure is available as a preliminary, voluntary alternative to arbitration. If the Committee forwards the complaint or request for a hearing, it is assigned to the Professional Standards Committee.
You may also appeal a dismissal of an arbitration request to the Executive Committee. The Directors review the information and can uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee's decision.
What is the Professional Standards Committee?
The function of the committee is to hold ethics and arbitration hearings. If the Respondent(s) has not already been requested to reply to your complaint, he will be at this time. A hearing will then be scheduled and you will be notified of the hearing's date, time and place. The hearings provide an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain his or her side of the story by presenting testimony and witnesses, if any.
Once all the facts have been presented, a Hearing Panel, consisting of members of the Association chosen on the basis of experience, temperament and objectivity, will determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, or, in the case of an arbitration, how the dispute should be settled.
The Association will inform you about each step of this process as it occurs. The Association will also give you instructions about the hearing procedures prior to the hearing. The entire process will usually take a minimum of 60 days, but may take longer.
How to file an ethics complaint -
- Complete and Sign the complaint form pdf E1 Complaint (136 KB) . This form requests you to name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s).
- List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics that you think the REALTOR® violated. (The Association will also supply you with a copy of the Code of Ethics).
- Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be as specific as possible. State what, when, where, why and how you think the REALTOR®(s) violated each Article.
- Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, addendums, etc. If you have notarized statements from witnesses, include those also.
- Send the entire package, keeping a copy for yourself, to the Association of REALTORS® to the attention of the Executive Officer. The Grievance Committee will then process your complaint.
How to file an arbitration request - for REALTORS®
- Complete and Sign the arbitration form pdf A1 (586 KB) pdf (144 KB) . Name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s).
- Indicate the amount in dispute.
- Include an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. State why you feel you are entitled to an award of some kind. Remember, don't include unethical allegations in your argument. If you think the REALTOR®(s) violated the Code of Ethics, the Association can handle this separately through an ethics complaint.
- Attach 15 copies of all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, closing statements, etc. Also, include any notarized statements you may have from witnesses.
- Include a $500 deposit with your arbitration request. The prevailing party in an arbitration will receive their $500 back from the Association.
- Send all of these items to the Association to the attention of the Executive Officer. The Grievance Committee will then process your request.
The National Association of REALTORS® adopted the Code of Ethics in 1913. Since then, REALTORS® everywhere have agreed to meet the Code's high standards. View the
pdf 2020 REALTOR® Code of Ethics (797 KB) .
The professional standards process plays a very important role in an Association of REALTORS®. It helps to ensure honorable, faithful and competent service to clients, customers and other members of the public by enforcing the Code of Ethics.
The NEXUS Association of REALTORS® prepared this document to help you understand the professional standards process.