1. WHO CAN FILE AN ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST A REALTOR®?
2. WHAT ARE THE CODE OF ETHICS?
The National Association's Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual provides:
Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action, may file a complaint in writing with the secretary of the Association of REALTORS®, dated and signed by the complainant, stating the facts on which it is based, provided that the complaint is filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence.
3. WHAT SPECIFIC INFORMATION SHOULD THE COMPLAINT CONTAIN?
The REALTORS® Code of Ethics consists of seventeen (17) Articles. The duties imposed by many of the Articles are explained and illustrated through accompanying Standards of Practice or case interpretations.
4. WHAT IF I NEED HELP?
The complaint should contain the detailed facts and dates, but should avoid opinions, recriminations and personalities. Complaints must be typewritten.
5. WHAT IF DON’T KNOW IF AN ETHICS COMPLAINT IS APPROPRIATE FOR MY SITUATION?
6. WHO REVIEWS MY COMPLAINT ONCE I FILE IT WITH THE ASSOCIATION?
The basis for filing an ethics complaint against a REALTOR® should be an allegation by the complainant that a REALTOR® violated one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. A charge of violating the law or the real estate regulations of the state is not a matter that can be considered by the Association of REALTORS®
7. WHAT DOES THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE DO?
The Grievance Committee is charged with preliminary evaluation and assessment of whether complaints should be dismissed or scheduled for hearing.
8. HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A HEARING?
The Grievance Committee does not hold hearings or make decisions regarding ethical violations. Rather, the Grievance Committee conducts a review of the complaint and makes such investigation as deemed necessary to determine whether the complaint could be construed as a Code violation if the complaint is taken as true on its face. If so, the Grievance Committee will refer it to the Professional Standards Committee for hearing.
9. IS THERE AN APPEAL PROCESS IF I DON’T AGREE WITH A DECISION?
Familiarize yourself with the hearing procedures that will be followed. In particular you will want to know about challenging potential panel members, your right to counsel, calling witnesses, and the burdens and standards of proof that apply.
10. WHAT INFORMATION IS CONSIDERED ON APPEAL?
Dismissal of a complaint by the Grievance Committee may be appealed to the Board of Directors within a time-frame specified by the association’s bylaws.
11. WHAT ACTION CAN THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS TAKE?
Only materials considered by the Grievance Committee can be reviewed by the Directors with the appeal. The parties do not have the right to appear before the Board of Directors. The Directors may affirm the Grievance Committee’s dismissal or may refer the matter for hearing.
12. WHEN IS A DECISION FINAL?
The Directors may adopt or modify the recommendation of the hearing panel, including the discipline proposed. The Directors may reduce the recommended discipline or refer the matter back to the panel for reconsideration. The Directors may dismiss the recommendation of the hearing panel if they feel it is not supported by the panel’s finding of fact.
Resources that may be helpful:
The decision of the Board of Directors is final, and there is no appeal to the state association or to the National Association of REALTORS®.
1. State of Michigan Licensing Authority http://www.michigan.gov/lara
2. State of Michigan Attorney General http://www.michigan.gov/ag/
3. Michigan Association of REALTORS® http://mirealtor.com/
4. National Association of REALTORS® http://www.realtor.org/