The distinctive and exclusive designation of REALTOR® is privileged to those real estate agents within the membership of the National Association of REALTORS®.
The term denotes business competence and high standards of business conduct. Each and every member pledges to observe a strict Code of Ethics written by the National Association of REALTORS® and enforced at the local level.
How Can I File A Complaint or Arbitration Request?
Simply contact the Association Executive at (530) 272-2627 or email a completed form and accompanied documents to [email protected]
Who Can File a Complaint?
An ethics complaint may be filed against a REALTOR® member of an Association by anyone, whether a REALTOR member, agent or member of the public. 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 in question is involved is a REALTOR® member.
Is it an Ethics Complaint or an Arbitration Request?
Ethics Complaint – implies that a REALTOR® has violated an Article(s) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics.
Arbitration – a monetary dispute arising out of a real estate transaction. If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, they will be handled separately. Arbitration cases are always processed prior to an ethics complaint regarding the same circumstances. Only when the arbitration is completed, will the ethics complaint be considered.
Have you considered discussing the matter with the agent(s), broker or considered Mediation prior to filing an Ethics Complaint or Arbitration Request?
Many times, issues can be resolved through simple communication. We recommend that you first contact your agent and his/her broker if you have an issue to resolve.
Mediation – is another resource available to provide an environment for conflict resolution. Many of our REALTOR members serve on the local Conflict Resolution Center of Nevada County mediation panels. The center provides a low cost, sliding scale and pro bono mediation services. If you are interested in being trained as a mediation or receiving more information on available services, call (530) 477-6517 for more information.
Ombudsman – Our association can provide you with a member of our Professional Standards Grievance Committee to as an Ombudsman who will assist you with your questions and filing. Contact (530) 272-2627 to speak with an Ombudsman today.
Filing an Ethics Complaint
- Simply call our offices at (530) 272-2627 and ask for Kathleen Hinman, the Association Executive. She will be happy to provide you with the necessary procedures and forms for filing. Once received, fax, email or mail the completed ethics complaint form or request for arbitration form, indicating the name(s) of the person/people (Respondent) that you are filing against.
- List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics you think the REALTOR® has violated, using the Code supplied in the filing packet supplied by our office. In an arbitration request, Article 17 will be the only code sited.
- Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be specific, stating what, where, when, why, and how you think the Article was violated.
- Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sale agreements, addendums, etc.
- Return the completed filing packet to the Association office. Contact the Professional Standards Administrator or Ombudsman with any questions or concerns.
The Professional Standards Process
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 Hearing Panel is the source 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 hearing Panels 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 and educational training
- Place the member on probation from the Association
- Suspend Association membership
- Expel the member from the Association
- Fine the member
Filing an Arbitration Request
- Contact our offices at (530) 272-2627 and ask for Kathleen Hinman, the Association Executive. She will be happy to provide you with the necessary procedures and forms for filing. Once the package is received, fax, email or mail the completed Request for Arbitration form and fee, indicating the name(s) of the person/people (Respondent) that you are filing against.
- Contact the Professional Standards Administrator or Ombudsman with any questions or concerns.
Important Note: The Nevada County Association of REALTORS only handles Arbitration cases between Member Companies and their Brokers. If a member of the public has an arbitrable issue regarding a transaction and seeks resolution, they have resources and these are just a few of the options available: 1) setting up a meeting with their agent, broker and the parties involved; 2) California Association of REALTOR Ombudsman Program; 3) Mediation through the local Conflict Resolution Center in Nevada County; 4) Small Claims Court ; 5) Counsel and 6) American Arbitration Association.
Additional Professional Standards Resources: