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Every Board/Association of REALTORS® should have a standing Grievance Committee, separate and apart from the board/association's Professional Standards Committee. It is recommended that members be appointed by the Board/Association President and subject to confirmation by the Board of Directors for three-year terms on a staggered basis.


The purpose of the Grievance Committee is to receive ethics complaints and arbitration requests (i.e., grievances) and to provide a preliminary review and screening process. The committee is similar to the Grand Jury's function within the judicial syste.

The committee does NOT conduct hearings and does NOT make determinations of Code violations, nor arbitration decisions. It should dimiss frivolous, unsubstantiated complaints and ensure that only valid complaints, properly framed and presented, are sent to the Professional Standards Committee for hearing by an appropriate hearing panel (i.e., ethics or arbitraiton or both, but separately with arbitration provided first).

Review Ethics Complaint To Assure:

1. Complaint is in proper from.
2. Respondent is REALTOR®, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® or non-resident member of the board/association.
3. Complaint filed within one-year's time limit.
4. Complaint specifies Article(s) of Code alleged to have been violated.
5. Conduct causing complaint is real estate-related.
6. If complaint is taken as being true at face value, it could possibly be ruled a violation of an Article of the Code.

If an affirmative judgment is made in the preceding consideration, the complaint is referred for hearing.

Complaint From Member of the Public

If the complaint is deficient in form or substance or is lacking detail, the Grievance Committee may assign one of its members to assist the complainant to prepare a proper complaint. The individual does not become an advocate for the complainant and does not participate in any of the committee's deliberations.

In response to the complaint, the Grievance Committee may take one of three actions:

1. Dismiss the complaint.
2. Return the complaint for arbitration to be requested.
3. Forward the complaint for hearing in its original form or as amended.

Complaint Dismissed By Grievance Committee

1. Complainant entitled to notice and explanation.
2. Complainant should be advised of right to appeal dismissal of complaint to Board of Directors.
3. Directors determine appeal on basis of inofrmation and materials used by Grievance Committee in reaching its decision.
4. Parties not entitled to be present.
5. Appeal decision is final and binding.

Investigation of Complaint By The Grievance Committee

1. Committee not required, but may elect to send complaint to respondent and invite a response.
2. Unless board/associaiton procedures require a response, respondent is not in violaiton of membership duty for not responding. However, the Grievance Committee then must decide on facts in hand, or review further, as necessary.
3. Committee must make sure it does not conduct a "hearing" and does not exceed its function.
4. In the event the complaint is from a client, customer, or a member of the general public and the Grievance Committee determines that the complaint is vague, overly general, does not allege violations of specific Articles, or is otherwise insufficient in its face, a member of the Grievance Committee may be assigned by the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee to assist the complainant in preparing the complaint in proper form.

Grievance Committee May Act On Its Own Initiative

Even when no formal complaint is received, the committee may conduct its own investigation and file its own complaint.

Review Of Requests For Arbitration

The Grievance Committee considers whether the request is in proper order, the proper parties are named, whether the request has been filed within the one hundred eighty (180) day time limit.

Is Request Arbitrable? Mandatory or Voluntary?

The committee must decide whether the matter is properly arbitrable. If it is not related to a real estate transaction, it is not arbitrable.

A determination must also be made as to whether the dispute falls into mandatory arbitration or voluntary category. (See Section 44, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, NAR)

Arbitration Considerations

The Grievance Committee must decide if the board/association is capable of arbitrating the dispute. An amount too small or too large may be the basis upon which a board/association refuses to provide arbitration.

A board/association may also decline to provide arbitration in cases where the legal complexity of the issue presented by be beyond the ability of the board/association's arbitrators to resolve in a knowledgeable fashion.

If the board/association is unable to form a competent and unbiased hearing panel of peers, the board may elect to refer the matter to the state association with a request that the state arbitrate it. If the state association cannot or refuses to hear it, the parties are released from their obligation to arbitrate.

If the board/association offers mediation, it is to the parties' and the board/association's advantage to use the process as a preliminary alternative to arbitration.

Grievance Committee's Dismissal Of Complaint Final Unless Appeal Made To Directors

When a Grievance Committee dismisses a request for arbitration, the decision is final, unless one of the parties appeals the dismissal to the Board of Directors. The directors may confirm dismissal or order that the dispute be arbitrated.


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