Ethics Complaint

REALTORS® are different from non-member licensed sales agents in that they voluntarily subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics. If you believe that a REALTOR® member may have violated our high ethical standards, you are encouraged to file an ethics complaint with Columbus REALTORS®.

In order for an ethics complaint to be processed, a formal complaint must be filed using the Ethics Complaint Form. If you are completing this form, you will need to refer to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS® to determine which Article(s) you believe have been violated.

In addition, please include a typewritten narrative or chronological summary of the events giving rise to your complaint, along with any supporting documents, and submit all to  Professional Standards, Columbus REALTORS®, 2700 Airport Dr., Columbus, Ohio 43219, or by email to [email protected]

Once the complaint is received by Columbus REALTORS® a complete copy is forwarded to the Columbus REALTORS® Grievance Committee for review. The Grievance Committee's responsibility is to review the case materials and, based on a certain set of guidelines they must follow, determine whether the allegations presented in the complaint warrant a hearing. 

If the matter is referred for a hearing, a panel of Professional Standards Committee members will be appointed to review the case at a formal hearing. Usually held at the Columbus REALTORS® office, the hearing will be scheduled at a time mutually convenient for all parties.

At the hearing the panel reviews the presented evidence to determine whether a violation of the Code of Ethics has taken place. Should the panel rule that the Code was violated, they may recommend disciplinary action to the Columbus REALTORS®’ Board of Directors. Such discipline may include a letter of reprimand or warning; respondent’s participation in appropriate education class(es); a fine of up to $15,000; suspension or expulsion from membership services; or a combination of these sanctions. A member found to have violated the Code of Ethics is also charged an Administrative Fee of $500. 

The Ethics Complaint process may take approximately two to three months, allowing a reasonable time for review by the Grievance Committee, scheduling of all parties to the hearing, and for adoption of the hearing panel recommendations by the Board of Directors.

FAQs about Ethics Complaints

Is there a statute of limitations for filing ethics complaints?

Yes. The time period is 180 days from the event, or from when you could have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the facts giving rise to your complaint.

How do I know whether to file an ethics complaint or to request arbitration?

Generally, ethics complaints are filed about behavior of a member REALTOR®. Arbitration is most commonly requested when there is a monetary dispute between REALTOR® principals arising from the business of real estate.

Can I file an arbitration request and an ethics complaint at the same time?

Yes. If the Grievance Committee determines that both cases warrant hearings, the arbitration hearing will be held first.

I'd like to file a complaint, but what about confidentiality?

All ethics complaints are strictly confidential; only the staff involved in the administration of cases, members of the Grievance Committee, and the Professional Standards Committee members assigned to the hearing panel will have access to ethics complaints. However, Columbus REALTORS® does not accept anonymous complaints.

Is there a special form I should use when filing an ethics complaint?

File an ethics complaint using Ethics Complaint Form, available from Columbus REALTORS®. This form must be accompanied by your typewritten narrative or chronological summary describing the events that occurred, and any exhibits that may support your complaint. Examples of such support may include contracts and other documents, text messages, emails, photos, etc.

Where do I submit the ethics complaint?

Submit your complaint via regular mail to Columbus REALTORS®, 2700 Airport Drive, Columbus OH 43219 or email to [email protected]

Will the person who I'm filing against be notified of my complaint?

Yes. If after its review the Grievance Committee determines a hearing is warranted, the respondent(s) and their broker are notified and participate in selection of the hearing date

How do I know which Article of the Code of Ethics to name in my complaint?

The Code of Ethics is supported by Standards of Practice, which can help explain the types of behavior covered by each Article. You may list Article numbers along with Standards of Practice, or just list Article numbers in your complaint. 

What if the respondent is not a member of Columbus REALTORS®?

Ethics complaints should usually be filed with the REALTOR® association where the responding REALTOR® holds membership and/or in which the property was listed.

Who establishes the rules that Columbus REALTORS® follows in handling ethics complaints?

Columbus REALTORS® is required to follow the guidelines and procedures outlined in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of the National Association of REALTORS®.

How long does the process take?

If an ethics complaint goes to a hearing, the process may take approximately 3 months. This is because of the time that must be allowed for review by the Grievance Committee, proper notification and scheduling of all parties, and ratification of the hearing decision by the Columbus REALTORS® Board of Directors.

References

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