Pursuant to the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, all REALTOR® members are mandated to complete a course requirement on a quadrennial basis to renew and review the practice of our REALTOR® Code of Ethics. This Code provides for dispute resolution in a self governed system of their peers. When a dispute arises the complainant can choose from a tiered process for resolution. It is important to note, that not all real estate licensees are REALTORS® and therefore not be subject to the enforcement of the Code of Ethics as a standard of practice.
The Alabama REALTORS® offers the services of an Ombudsman Team for counseling members and settling disputes. The Ombudsman may assist in answering questions from REALTORS®, as well as, the public, on the procedures of the Association. The Ombudsman can respond to a wide variety of inquiries and complaints including: general questions about real estate practice, transaction details, ethical practices, and enforcement issues. If you would like to utilize the ombudsman service or have questions, please contact our Professional Services Administrator at 334-262-3808.
Mediation is a voluntary, informal dispute resolution process designed to assist members and their clients to settle disputes swiftly and informally. Mediation is not an adversarial proceeding. There is no determination of guilt or innocence. Mediators do not decide cases; they help the parties come to their own agreement. They may carry representations back and forth between the parties but they do not argue on their behalf. Mediation is designed to help both sides come away with something, having given something and having aired their feelings. By electing mediation, the parties can avoid arbitration which is a win/lose decision. Should the parties not reach an agreement, either may request arbitration under the Association rules.
When a monetary dispute arises between REALTOR® members and/or their clients, it is brought before the association. Disputes between REALTOR® members requires arbitration if their local membership application and policies support such. The parties may choose whether to try mediation first. In an arbitration hearing, the decision handed down by the Arbitration Panel is final and binding by law, as well as by the bylaws of the Association. The failure of a party to abide by the arbitration decision can be enforced by the court.
When a non-monetary dispute arises between REALTOR® members and the members of the public it is brought before the Grievance Committee at the local association. The complaint must include the articles in which the complainant alleges a violation from the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Upon filing and assuming all procedures are followed correctly, the local administrator will schedule a panel of the committee to meet and review the case. The Grievance Panel is similar to a Grand Jury in that they look at the case on face value in order to determine if it should move forward into a Professional Standards Hearing for an Ethical Grievance. If the case is forwarded and heard by the Professional Standards Committee Panel, the parties will appear and present their case and a decision will be rendered after the panel finishes a deliberation.
REALTORS® are different from non-member licensees in that they voluntarily subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics. If you believe that a REALTOR® has violated one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics, you can file an ethics complaint alleging a violation(s) through the local association of REALTORS® where the REALTOR® holds membership, or participates in a REALTOR® association-owned/operated MLS.
Click here for resources from the National Association of REALTORS to help you understand what filing and processing an ethics complaint and arbitration request entails, and the general process you can expect when filing an ethics complaint or arbitration request with a local association of REALTORS®. Check with the local association of REALTORS® to ensure you have the proper forms required by that association.
The Alabama Association of REALTOR®; (AAR) is the largest statewide organization of real estate professionals. United by adherence to a Code of Ethics, our members work as real estate professionals in the sale, lease, appraisal and development of residential, rural, and resort properties throughout Alabama.