Sarasota Association of Realtors®, Inc.

Request for Arbitration
Please find enclosed Form A-1 for filing a Request for Arbitration. Attach the completed form to your written statement substantiating the arbitration amount requested to support your case. This amount must be for money you believe is owed you, not for money you believe you should be paid for damages you may have incurred. The request must show there was a contractual issue with the respondent, i.e. the respondent has promised to pay or specific non-contractual disputes. An example: A buyer you showed the property to contracts the house through another broker. After closing you feel you were the procuring cause. You may file against the broker who was paid. The jurisdiction of the Association can arbitrate entitlement to disputed monies, but cannot award punitive damages. The transaction must have closed in order to arbitrate. Also enclosed is a copy of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics and a brochure on the process and procedures regarding ethics and arbitration. Please send us: 1. 2. Original plus fifteen (15) copies of Form A-1 and supporting documentation. A deposit check for $250.00. The deposit is returned to the prevailing party.

Upon receipt, the request to arbitrate will be forwarded to the Grievance Committee. The Committee usually meets the first Monday of every month. You will be advised of the Grievance Committee’s decision in writing. The Committee may either forward the request to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing or dismiss it as unarbitrable. Before a hearing is scheduled, each party will be contacted by the Professional Standards Administrator to determine if the parties wish to mediate the dispute. If both parties agree, an attempt will be made to mediate the controversy with a mediator, acceptable to both parties. If mediation cannot be achieved, the Professional Standards arbitration process will begin. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel to contact Patty Niemann, Professional Standards Administrator at (941) 328-1169.

3590 S. Tuttle Avenue • Sarasota, FL 34239 • 941-923-2315 • Fax 941-921-2074

FORM #A-1
Sarasota Association Of Realtors®, Inc. 3590 S. Tuttle Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34239

Request And Agreement To Arbitrate
1. The undersigned, by becoming and remaining a member of the Sarasota Association of REALTORS® (or Participant in its MLS) has previously consented to arbitration through the Association under its Rules and Regulations. I am informed that each person named below is a member in good standing of the Association (or Participant in its MLS) or was a member of said Association of REALTORS® at the time the dispute arose. A dispute arising out of the real estate business as defined by Article 17 of the Code of Ethics exists between me (or my firm) and (list all persons and/or firms you wish to name as Respondents to this arbitration.) (Name) , REALTOR®Principal (Address)

2.

3.

(Name)_______________________________Broker/Office Manager (Address)_______________________________________ (Firm) ________________________________ Address__________________________________________________________ 4. There is due, unpaid, and owing to me (or I retain) from the above-name persons the sum of $ predicated upon the statement attached, marked Exhibit "I" and incorporated by reference into this application. . My claim is

5.

I request and consent to arbitration through the Association in accordance with its Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual (alternatively, "in accordance with the professional standards procedures set forth in the Bylaws of the Association"), and I agree to abide by the arbitration award and to comply with it promptly. In the event I do not comply with the arbitration award and it is necessary for any party to this arbitration to obtain judicial confirmation and enforcement of the arbitration award against me, I agree to pay the party obtaining such confirmation the costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in obtaining such confirmation and enforcement.

6. 7.

I enclose my check in the sum of $250.00 for the arbitration filing fee. I understand that I may be represented by legal counsel, and that I should give written notice no less than fifteen (15) days before the hearing of the name, address, and phone number of my attorney to all parties and the Association. Failure to provide this notice may result in a continuance of the hearing, if the Hearing Panel determines that the rights of the other party(ies) require representation. Each party must provide a list of the names of witnesses he/she intends to call at the hearing to the Association and to all other parties not less than fifteen (15) days prior to the hearing. Each party shall arrange for his/her witnesses to be present at the time and place designated for the hearing. The following REALTOR® nonprincipal affiliated with my firm has a financial interest in the outcome of the proceeding and has the right to be present throughout the hearing:_______________________________

8.

I declare that this application and the allegations contained herein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief and this request for arbitration is filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the closing of the transaction, or within one hundred eighty days (180) after the facts constituting the arbitrable matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later. If either party to an Arbitration Request believes that the Grievance Committee has incorrectly classified the issue presented in the request (i.e., mandatory or voluntary), the party has twenty (20) days from the date of receipt of the Grievance Committee’s decision to file a written appeal of the decision. Only those materials that the Grievance Committee had at the time of its determination may be considered with the appeal by the Board of Directors. Are the circumstances giving rise to this arbitration request the subject of civil litigation? _____Yes _____ No

9.

10.

COMPLAINANT(s)
Name (type/print) Signature of Realtor Principal Date

Address Name (type/print) Signature of Office Manager/Broker

Telephone Date

Address Name of Firm Address

Telephone

     
A Guide  to the  Process and Procedures  of  Ethics and Arbitration 

Table of Contents
Questions and Answers ................................................................................... 1 Complaint against a REALTOR® ...................................................................... 1 Is Your Complaint Ethics or Arbitration........................................................... 1 Who May File an Ethics Complaint................................................................... 1 Who May File an Arbitration Complaint........................................................... 2 What Can SAR Do ............................................................................................ 2 How Do You File .............................................................................................. 3 Ethics Complaint ......................................................................................... 3 Arbitration Request .................................................................................... 4 How Does SAR Process the Complaint ............................................................ 4 Function of Grievance Committee ................................................................... 4 Ethics Complaints ....................................................................................... 4 Arbitration Requests................................................................................... 5 Function of the Professional Standards Committee ........................................ 6 Procedural Flow Chart ..................................................................................... 7

Questions and Answers Ethics Complaints & Arbitration Requests
Q. Do you have a complaint concerning a REALTOR®? A. The first thing that must be determined in processing a complaint with the Sarasota Association of REALTORS® (SAR) is whether the real estate agent involved is a REALTOR® and a member of SAR, or receives MLS through SAR. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. Only those who belong to an Association of REALTORS® can use the term REALTOR®. When joining an Association, all members agree to abide by the Code of Ethics as a continuing condition of membership. It is because of this obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics that you can file complaints at an Association of REALTORS®.

Q. Is your complaint Ethics or Arbitration? A. You may have to consider whether your complaint concerns an ethics matter or an arbitration of a monetary dispute. An ethics complaint charges that a REALTOR® has violated an Article(s) of the Code of Ethics. Arbitration is a means of resolving a monetary dispute arising out of a real estate transaction that the parties have been unable to solve themselves. An arbitration complaint or request is a simple notice by a member of a disagreement with another member, usually a commission dispute. Sometimes arbitration concerns a dispute between a member of the public and an Association member. Arbitration does not award damages. If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, SAR will handle the requests separately. You may file both at the same time however, arbitration is always held first. Only when arbitration is complete will the ethics complaint be considered. Q. Who may file an ethics complaint? A. Anyone. Any person, whether a member of SAR or not, may file a complaint against a SAR member alleging a violation of the Code of Ethics, providing the complaint: 1. Is in writing. 2. Is signed by the complainant. 3. States the facts surrounding the case. 4. Is filed within 180 days (6 months) after the facts could have become known. The Complainant may file a complaint from any location provided it is filed with the Association having jurisdiction over the individual named in the complaint.
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Q. Who may file an arbitration request? A. REALTORS®, primary or secondary members, who are principal brokers. REALTORS®, primary or secondary members, who are not principals, provided his or her principal broker joins in the request. Clients or customers of the REALTOR® (see note below). The request also must: 1. Be in writing. 2. Be signed by the Complainant. 3. Indicate the amount in dispute. 4. Be filed within 180 days (6 months) of either closing of transaction or after the facts could have become known, whichever is later.

Arbitration facilities are provided by SAR as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. By becoming and remaining a member of SAR, REALTORS® bind themselves to arbitrate certain disputes. In all arbitrable matters, mediation is offered prior to a formal hearing. Be aware that not every situation may be arbitrated at SAR. There are conditions and limitations to be considered, which will be explained to you by SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator as the process continues. Note: Disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration. Whether the complainant is a client or a customer and whether the dispute is one that can be processed by SAR’s Grievance Committee is determined by SAR’s Grievance Committee. Q. What can SAR do? A. SAR has limitations to its authority regarding its members. Below is a list of those limitations: 1. SAR cannot hold an administrative hearing for violations of the Florida real estate license law or any other alleged violation of the law. It has jurisdiction only over violations of membership duties. The Florida Real Estate Commission has sole control of the real estate agent’s license to sell real estate. If you think a person has violated the law, you should be contacting another agency. 2. For the same reason, SAR cannot suspend or terminate the real estate license of one of its members. 3. SAR can in the case of an ethics violation being determined in a due process hearing procedure, administer discipline to the REALTOR® in one or more of the following ways: • Send a letter of warning or reprimand to the member. • Direct the member to attend an ethics class or other • training appropriate to the violation.
2

• • • •

• •

4. 6.

7.

Appropriate and reasonable fine not to exceed $5,000 (this fine is not awarded to the complainant). Place the member on probation for a stated period of time not less than thirty (30) days or more than one (1) year. Membership of the individual suspended for a stated period of time not less than thirty (30) days or more than one (1) year. Expel the member from membership with no reinstatement privilege for a specified period of one (1) to three (3) years, with reinstatement of membership to be by application only after the specified period of expulsion on the merits of the application at the time received. Suspension (30 days to 1 year) or termination of MLS rights and privileges (1 to 3 years). If Respondent is found in violation of the Code of Ethics, an administrative processing fee of $250 will be assessed by SAR for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense. Monetary damages cannot be a part of an ethics proceeding. SAR can arbitrate certain money disputes and must in some situations, but the member of the public must agree in writing to arbitrate the dispute and to be bound by the decision. The award in arbitration cannot be greater than the amount in dispute, may not include "punitive" damages and may not include attorney's fees unless expressly provided for in the agreement giving rise to the dispute.

Q. How do you file? A. Now that you know the ground rules, if you wish to file a complaint, here’s how you do it.

Ethics Complaints If you want to file an ethics complaint, you need to follow these steps: 1. 2. 3. 4. Contact SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator (328-1169) to request an ethics complaint package. Complete and sign the complaint form (#E-1). This form requests you to name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s). List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics that you think the REALTOR® has violated. A copy of the Code of Ethics is included in this packet. Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be as specific as possible. State the details, including what, when, where, why and how you think each Article was violated. Attached copies of any and all pertinent documents that prove your points such as listing agreement, purchase and sales agreements and addenda. If you have notarized statements from witnesses, include those also. Send the entire package, keeping a copy for yourself, to SAR to the attention of the Professional Standards Administrator. The complaint and response will then be processed through the Grievance Committee.

5.

6.

3

Arbitration Requests The process is very similar to filing an ethics complaint. A request for arbitration form will be supplied by SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator. Steps to follow are: 1. 2. Contact SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator (328-1169) for an arbitration request package. Name the Designated REALTOR® and REALTOR®(s) involved (Respondents). The Designated REALTOR® with a firm must be named in most instances in addition to the REALTOR®(s) involved. Indicate the amount in dispute. Include an explanation of the situation. State why you feel you are entitled to an award of some kind. Remember; don’t include allegations of unethical conduct in your argument. If you think there have been ethical violations, they can be handled separately with an ethics complaint. Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, and closing statements, plus any notarized statements from witnesses. SAR requires an arbitration deposit of $250 and it must be included. Details are included in the arbitration packet you receive. You will be asked to sign an arbitration agreement (Form #A-1, Member or Form #A-2, Nonmember) indicating your commitment to abide by the decision of the Hearing Panel. Send all of these items to SAR to the attention of the Professional Standards Administrator. Remember, it is not unusual for SAR to receive an ethics complaint and an arbitration request surrounding the same set of circumstances. If you think the REALTOR®(s) violated the Code of Ethics and you have a monetary dispute with him or her, you must complete both forms. How does SAR process the complaint? The complaint will be processed through the Grievance Committee. You will be advised of the Grievance Committee’s decision in writing. The Committee may either forward the request to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing or dismiss it as unarbitrable.

3. 4.

5.

6. 7.

8.

Q. A.

FUNCTION OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Ethics Complaints: The Grievance Committee reviews complaints when received by SAR. The Committee determines whether the complaint has sufficient merit for further consideration, somewhat like a “grand jury”. It does not determine guilt or innocence. The Committee will do one of three things: 1. 2. 3. Forward the case for a Professional Standards Hearing, or Dismiss it, if the complaint is determined to be frivolous, harassing or unfounded or not within the time limitations, or Postpone its decision based on getting more information from you or determining that the case may be more appropriately considered for arbitration.
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Also before it reaches a decision, the Committee may request additional information or clarification from you regarding your complaint. If your complaint is dismissed by the Committee, you have the right to appeal the dismissal to the Board of Directors. A panel of five (5) members from the Board of Directors will be selected by the President of the Association. In the case of an appeal, the Directors re-examine the materials submitted to the Grievance Committee and can either uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee’s decision. Complainants and Respondents are not present for the appeal. If the complaint is to be given further consideration, it will be sent to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing. Arbitration Requests: The Grievance Committee’s role in arbitration is different from ethics complaints. Its only function is to make such preliminary investigation to determine whether the matter is subject to arbitration by SAR. Arbitration sometimes is a duty and sometimes a privilege. The Committee must decide whether your situation fits into the “Duty” or the “Privilege” category. It does this by determining: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Where you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke arbitration. Whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter. Whether the arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved (this simply means whether arbitrating the dispute is compulsory or not). Whether either the amount in dispute is too small or too large, or the matter is too legally complicated for SAR to consider. Whether or not the request is filed within the time frame (180 days).

Such a review could result in the release of SAR members from the obligation to arbitrate, and thus free you to seek other recourse in order to resolve the dispute. If the Grievance Committee determines that a matter is arbitrable, it also will notify the parties that a mediation procedure is available as a preliminary, voluntary alternative to arbitration. If the Committee determines that the matter is not arbitrable, the Complainant and Respondent deposits will be refunded. As in the case of ethics complaints, you may appeal a dismissal of an arbitration request to SAR’s Board of Directors. A panel of five (5) Board of Directors´ members will be selected by the President of SAR to review the materials submitted to the Committee and can uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee’s dismissal. Complainant and Respondent are not present for the appeal. In either ethics or arbitration cases, you will be informed promptly of the Grievance Committee’s decision. If the Grievance Committee forwards the complaint or request to a hearing, it is assigned to SAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

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FUNCTION OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS COMMITTEE The function of this Committee is to hold ethics and arbitration hearings. The Professional Standards Committee Chair will appoint a Hearing Panel, consisting of five members of the Professional Standards Committee of the SAR chosen on the basis of experience, temperament and objectivity. A hearing will be scheduled and both the Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the hearing date, time and place. These hearings provide an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain “his or her side of the story” by presenting testimony and witnesses, if any. Once all the facts have been presented to the appointed Hearing Panel, the Panel will go into executive session to determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, or, in the case of arbitration, how the dispute should be settled. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the Panel's decision by certified mail. You will be informed by SAR about each step of this process as it occurs. Complainant and Respondent also will be given instructions about the hearing procedures prior to the hearing. The entire process usually will take a minimum of 60 days, but may take longer. In arbitration cases, the prevailing party’s deposit will be refunded. If you have any questions relating to filing your complaint, please call SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator at (941) 328-1169.

Send all correspondence to: Professional Standards Administrator Sarasota Association of REALTORS® 3590 S. Tuttle Avenue Sarasota, FL 34239

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PROCEDURAL FLOW CHART

Phone Call Ethics Complaint or Arbitration Request Received

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Sarasota Association of Realtors´ Grievance Committee Review Ethics Complaints & Arbitration Requests Acceptable form? All necessary parties named? Filed within 180 days (6 months)? Is the Respondent a member of the Association? Was Respondent a member when this transpired? Litigation? Arbitration Only 7. Mandatory or voluntary arbitration? 8. Too small, too large or too complex?

Ethics Only 7. Are the correct Articles cited? 8. Should some be added or deleted? 9. If true on face value, is it a possible violation? Dismissed as not valid Forward for Professional Standards Hearing

Dismissed as not arbitrable

or

Offer mediation If parties do not wish to mediate or mediation not successful Forward for Professional Standards Hearing Mail Challenge Form showing Professional Standards Hearing Committee Members Set hearing date & notify both parties & panel members. 21 days’ notice required Hold Hearing

May appeal decision to Board of Directors within 20 days

or

Mail Challenge Form showing Professional Standards Hearing Committee Members

May appeal decision to Board of Directors within 20 days

Set hearing date & notify both parties & panel members. 21 days’ notice required Hold Hearing

“Findings of Facts” - notify both parties - 20 days to appeal if desired “Findings of Facts” validated by Board of Directors Validation notice by Board sent to both parties

“Award (if any) of Arbitrators” Notify both parties 20 days to appeal only on procedural review

Revised: 7/2007

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Sarasota Association of Realtors®, Inc.

Request for Arbitration
Non-Member
Please find enclosed Form A-2 for filing a Request for Arbitration. Attach the completed form to your written statement substantiating the arbitration amount requested to support your case. This amount must be for money you believe is owed you, not for money you believe you should be paid for damages you may have incurred. The request must show there was a contractual issue with the respondent, i.e. the respondent has promised to pay or specific non-contractual disputes. An example: A buyer you showed the property to contracts the house through another broker. After closing you feel you were the procuring cause. You may file against the broker who was paid. The Association can arbitrate entitlement to disputed monies, but cannot award punitive damages. The transaction must have closed in order to arbitrate. Also enclosed is a brochure on the process and procedures regarding arbitration. Please send us: 1. 2. Original plus fifteen (15) copies of Form A-2 and supporting documentation. A deposit check for $250.00. The deposit is returned to the prevailing party.

Upon receipt, the request to arbitrate will be sent to the Respondent for a response. The Respondent has 15 days to respond. Once we have the response, the request to arbitrate will go forward to the Grievance Committee. The Committee usually meets the first Monday of every month. You will be advised of the Grievance Committee’s decision in writing. The Committee may either forward the request to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing or dismiss it as unarbitrable. If the Grievance Committee forwards your request for a hearing, a copy of your request will be sent to the Respondent. Arbitration by the Respondent will be voluntary because you are not a Realtor® member or an MLS participant. If the Respondent chooses to arbitrate, prior to a hearing being scheduled, each party will be contacted by the Professional Standards Administrator to determine if the parties wish to mediate the dispute. If both parties agree, an attempt will be made to mediate the controversy with a mediator, acceptable to both parties. If mediation cannot be achieved, the Professional Standards arbitration process will begin. If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel to contact Patty Niemann, Professional Standards Administrator at (941) 328-1169.

3590 S. Tuttle Avenue • Sarasota, FL 34239 • 941-923-2315 • Fax 941-921-2074

FORM #A-2
Sarasota Association Of REALTORS®, Inc. 3590 S. Tuttle Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 34239

Request And Agreement To Arbitrate Non-Member
1. The undersigned agrees and wants to submit to arbitration before a Hearing Panel of the Sarasota Association of REALTORS® with the understanding that the arbitration will be conducted pursuant to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of the Association (or alternatively, “in accordance with the professional standards procedures set forth in the Association’s Bylaws). The undersigned acknowledges having had the opportunity to review the Association’s procedures or having been provided with a copy of the procedures I am informed that each person named below is a member in good standing of the Association (or Participant in its MLS) or was a member of said Association of REALTORS® at the time the dispute arose. A dispute arising out of the real estate business as defined by Article 17 of the Code of Ethics exists between me and (list all persons you wish to name as Respondents to this arbitration.) (Name) (Name) , REALTOR® Principal (Address) . REALTOR® Principal (Address) Address________________________________________________ . My claim is

2.

3.

(Firm)______________________________________ 4.

There is due, unpaid, and owing to me (or I retain) from the above-name persons the sum of $ predicated upon the statement attached, marked Exhibit "1" and incorporated by reference into this application.

5.

The undersigned confirms that execution of this Agreement is wholly voluntary and, pursuant to this Agreement, agrees and promises to abide absolutely by the award of the Hearing Panel and in the event of adverse decision, to make prompt compliance and to pay the fees and costs as provided by the Association’s Professional Standards procedures. I enclose my check in the sum of $250.00 for the arbitration filing fee. I understand that I may be represented by legal counsel, and that I should give written notice no less than 15 days before the hearing of the name, address, and phone number of my attorney to all parties and the Association. Failure to provide this notice may result in a continuance of the hearing, if the Hearing Panel determines that the rights of the other party(ies) require representation. Each party must provide a list of the names of witnesses he/she intends to call at the hearing to the Association and to all other parties not less than 15 days prior to the hearing. Each party shall arrange for his/her witnesses to be present at the time and place designated for the hearing.

6. 7.

8.

I declare that this application and the allegations contained herein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief and this request for arbitration is filed within 180 days after the closing of the transaction, if any, or 180 days after the facts constituting the arbitrable matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later. If either party to an Arbitration Request believes that the Grievance Committee has incorrectly classified the issue presented in the request (i.e., mandatory or voluntary), the party has 20 days from the date of receipt of the Grievance Committee’s decision to file a written appeal of the decision. Only those materials that the Grievance Committee had at the time of its determination may be considered with the appeal by the Association of Directors. Are the circumstances giving rise to this arbitration request the subject of civil litigation? _____Yes _____ No

9.

10.

COMPLAINANT(S):
Name Type/Print Signature of Complainant Date

Address Name Type/Print Signature of Complainant

Telephone Date

Address

Telephone

     
A Guide  to the  Process and Procedures  of  Ethics and Arbitration 

Table of Contents
Questions and Answers ................................................................................... 1 Complaint against a REALTOR® ...................................................................... 1 Is Your Complaint Ethics or Arbitration........................................................... 1 Who May File an Ethics Complaint................................................................... 1 Who May File an Arbitration Complaint........................................................... 2 What Can SAR Do ............................................................................................ 2 How Do You File .............................................................................................. 3 Ethics Complaint ......................................................................................... 3 Arbitration Request .................................................................................... 4 How Does SAR Process the Complaint ............................................................ 4 Function of Grievance Committee ................................................................... 4 Ethics Complaints ....................................................................................... 4 Arbitration Requests................................................................................... 5 Function of the Professional Standards Committee ........................................ 6 Procedural Flow Chart ..................................................................................... 7

Questions and Answers Ethics Complaints & Arbitration Requests
Q. Do you have a complaint concerning a REALTOR®? A. The first thing that must be determined in processing a complaint with the Sarasota Association of REALTORS® (SAR) is whether the real estate agent involved is a REALTOR® and a member of SAR, or receives MLS through SAR. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. Only those who belong to an Association of REALTORS® can use the term REALTOR®. When joining an Association, all members agree to abide by the Code of Ethics as a continuing condition of membership. It is because of this obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics that you can file complaints at an Association of REALTORS®.

Q. Is your complaint Ethics or Arbitration? A. You may have to consider whether your complaint concerns an ethics matter or an arbitration of a monetary dispute. An ethics complaint charges that a REALTOR® has violated an Article(s) of the Code of Ethics. Arbitration is a means of resolving a monetary dispute arising out of a real estate transaction that the parties have been unable to solve themselves. An arbitration complaint or request is a simple notice by a member of a disagreement with another member, usually a commission dispute. Sometimes arbitration concerns a dispute between a member of the public and an Association member. Arbitration does not award damages. If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, SAR will handle the requests separately. You may file both at the same time however, arbitration is always held first. Only when arbitration is complete will the ethics complaint be considered. Q. Who may file an ethics complaint? A. Anyone. Any person, whether a member of SAR or not, may file a complaint against a SAR member alleging a violation of the Code of Ethics, providing the complaint: 1. Is in writing. 2. Is signed by the complainant. 3. States the facts surrounding the case. 4. Is filed within 180 days (6 months) after the facts could have become known. The Complainant may file a complaint from any location provided it is filed with the Association having jurisdiction over the individual named in the complaint.
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Q. Who may file an arbitration request? A. REALTORS®, primary or secondary members, who are principal brokers. REALTORS®, primary or secondary members, who are not principals, provided his or her principal broker joins in the request. Clients or customers of the REALTOR® (see note below). The request also must: 1. Be in writing. 2. Be signed by the Complainant. 3. Indicate the amount in dispute. 4. Be filed within 180 days (6 months) of either closing of transaction or after the facts could have become known, whichever is later.

Arbitration facilities are provided by SAR as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. By becoming and remaining a member of SAR, REALTORS® bind themselves to arbitrate certain disputes. In all arbitrable matters, mediation is offered prior to a formal hearing. Be aware that not every situation may be arbitrated at SAR. There are conditions and limitations to be considered, which will be explained to you by SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator as the process continues. Note: Disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration. Whether the complainant is a client or a customer and whether the dispute is one that can be processed by SAR’s Grievance Committee is determined by SAR’s Grievance Committee. Q. What can SAR do? A. SAR has limitations to its authority regarding its members. Below is a list of those limitations: 1. SAR cannot hold an administrative hearing for violations of the Florida real estate license law or any other alleged violation of the law. It has jurisdiction only over violations of membership duties. The Florida Real Estate Commission has sole control of the real estate agent’s license to sell real estate. If you think a person has violated the law, you should be contacting another agency. 2. For the same reason, SAR cannot suspend or terminate the real estate license of one of its members. 3. SAR can in the case of an ethics violation being determined in a due process hearing procedure, administer discipline to the REALTOR® in one or more of the following ways: • Send a letter of warning or reprimand to the member. • Direct the member to attend an ethics class or other • training appropriate to the violation.
2

• • • •

• •

4. 6.

7.

Appropriate and reasonable fine not to exceed $5,000 (this fine is not awarded to the complainant). Place the member on probation for a stated period of time not less than thirty (30) days or more than one (1) year. Membership of the individual suspended for a stated period of time not less than thirty (30) days or more than one (1) year. Expel the member from membership with no reinstatement privilege for a specified period of one (1) to three (3) years, with reinstatement of membership to be by application only after the specified period of expulsion on the merits of the application at the time received. Suspension (30 days to 1 year) or termination of MLS rights and privileges (1 to 3 years). If Respondent is found in violation of the Code of Ethics, an administrative processing fee of $250 will be assessed by SAR for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense. Monetary damages cannot be a part of an ethics proceeding. SAR can arbitrate certain money disputes and must in some situations, but the member of the public must agree in writing to arbitrate the dispute and to be bound by the decision. The award in arbitration cannot be greater than the amount in dispute, may not include "punitive" damages and may not include attorney's fees unless expressly provided for in the agreement giving rise to the dispute.

Q. How do you file? A. Now that you know the ground rules, if you wish to file a complaint, here’s how you do it.

Ethics Complaints If you want to file an ethics complaint, you need to follow these steps: 1. 2. 3. 4. Contact SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator (328-1169) to request an ethics complaint package. Complete and sign the complaint form (#E-1). This form requests you to name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s). List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics that you think the REALTOR® has violated. A copy of the Code of Ethics is included in this packet. Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be as specific as possible. State the details, including what, when, where, why and how you think each Article was violated. Attached copies of any and all pertinent documents that prove your points such as listing agreement, purchase and sales agreements and addenda. If you have notarized statements from witnesses, include those also. Send the entire package, keeping a copy for yourself, to SAR to the attention of the Professional Standards Administrator. The complaint and response will then be processed through the Grievance Committee.

5.

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Arbitration Requests The process is very similar to filing an ethics complaint. A request for arbitration form will be supplied by SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator. Steps to follow are: 1. 2. Contact SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator (328-1169) for an arbitration request package. Name the Designated REALTOR® and REALTOR®(s) involved (Respondents). The Designated REALTOR® with a firm must be named in most instances in addition to the REALTOR®(s) involved. Indicate the amount in dispute. Include an explanation of the situation. State why you feel you are entitled to an award of some kind. Remember; don’t include allegations of unethical conduct in your argument. If you think there have been ethical violations, they can be handled separately with an ethics complaint. Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, and closing statements, plus any notarized statements from witnesses. SAR requires an arbitration deposit of $250 and it must be included. Details are included in the arbitration packet you receive. You will be asked to sign an arbitration agreement (Form #A-1, Member or Form #A-2, Nonmember) indicating your commitment to abide by the decision of the Hearing Panel. Send all of these items to SAR to the attention of the Professional Standards Administrator. Remember, it is not unusual for SAR to receive an ethics complaint and an arbitration request surrounding the same set of circumstances. If you think the REALTOR®(s) violated the Code of Ethics and you have a monetary dispute with him or her, you must complete both forms. How does SAR process the complaint? The complaint will be processed through the Grievance Committee. You will be advised of the Grievance Committee’s decision in writing. The Committee may either forward the request to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing or dismiss it as unarbitrable.

3. 4.

5.

6. 7.

8.

Q. A.

FUNCTION OF THE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE
Ethics Complaints: The Grievance Committee reviews complaints when received by SAR. The Committee determines whether the complaint has sufficient merit for further consideration, somewhat like a “grand jury”. It does not determine guilt or innocence. The Committee will do one of three things: 1. 2. 3. Forward the case for a Professional Standards Hearing, or Dismiss it, if the complaint is determined to be frivolous, harassing or unfounded or not within the time limitations, or Postpone its decision based on getting more information from you or determining that the case may be more appropriately considered for arbitration.
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Also before it reaches a decision, the Committee may request additional information or clarification from you regarding your complaint. If your complaint is dismissed by the Committee, you have the right to appeal the dismissal to the Board of Directors. A panel of five (5) members from the Board of Directors will be selected by the President of the Association. In the case of an appeal, the Directors re-examine the materials submitted to the Grievance Committee and can either uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee’s decision. Complainants and Respondents are not present for the appeal. If the complaint is to be given further consideration, it will be sent to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing. Arbitration Requests: The Grievance Committee’s role in arbitration is different from ethics complaints. Its only function is to make such preliminary investigation to determine whether the matter is subject to arbitration by SAR. Arbitration sometimes is a duty and sometimes a privilege. The Committee must decide whether your situation fits into the “Duty” or the “Privilege” category. It does this by determining: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Where you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke arbitration. Whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter. Whether the arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved (this simply means whether arbitrating the dispute is compulsory or not). Whether either the amount in dispute is too small or too large, or the matter is too legally complicated for SAR to consider. Whether or not the request is filed within the time frame (180 days).

Such a review could result in the release of SAR members from the obligation to arbitrate, and thus free you to seek other recourse in order to resolve the dispute. If the Grievance Committee determines that a matter is arbitrable, it also will notify the parties that a mediation procedure is available as a preliminary, voluntary alternative to arbitration. If the Committee determines that the matter is not arbitrable, the Complainant and Respondent deposits will be refunded. As in the case of ethics complaints, you may appeal a dismissal of an arbitration request to SAR’s Board of Directors. A panel of five (5) Board of Directors´ members will be selected by the President of SAR to review the materials submitted to the Committee and can uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee’s dismissal. Complainant and Respondent are not present for the appeal. In either ethics or arbitration cases, you will be informed promptly of the Grievance Committee’s decision. If the Grievance Committee forwards the complaint or request to a hearing, it is assigned to SAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

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FUNCTION OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS COMMITTEE The function of this Committee is to hold ethics and arbitration hearings. The Professional Standards Committee Chair will appoint a Hearing Panel, consisting of five members of the Professional Standards Committee of the SAR chosen on the basis of experience, temperament and objectivity. A hearing will be scheduled and both the Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the hearing date, time and place. These hearings provide an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain “his or her side of the story” by presenting testimony and witnesses, if any. Once all the facts have been presented to the appointed Hearing Panel, the Panel will go into executive session to determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, or, in the case of arbitration, how the dispute should be settled. The Complainant and Respondent will be notified of the Panel's decision by certified mail. You will be informed by SAR about each step of this process as it occurs. Complainant and Respondent also will be given instructions about the hearing procedures prior to the hearing. The entire process usually will take a minimum of 60 days, but may take longer. In arbitration cases, the prevailing party’s deposit will be refunded. If you have any questions relating to filing your complaint, please call SAR’s Professional Standards Administrator at (941) 328-1169.

Send all correspondence to: Professional Standards Administrator Sarasota Association of REALTORS® 3590 S. Tuttle Avenue Sarasota, FL 34239

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PROCEDURAL FLOW CHART

Phone Call Ethics Complaint or Arbitration Request Received

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Sarasota Association of Realtors´ Grievance Committee Review Ethics Complaints & Arbitration Requests Acceptable form? All necessary parties named? Filed within 180 days (6 months)? Is the Respondent a member of the Association? Was Respondent a member when this transpired? Litigation? Arbitration Only 7. Mandatory or voluntary arbitration? 8. Too small, too large or too complex?

Ethics Only 7. Are the correct Articles cited? 8. Should some be added or deleted? 9. If true on face value, is it a possible violation? Dismissed as not valid Forward for Professional Standards Hearing

Dismissed as not arbitrable

or

Offer mediation If parties do not wish to mediate or mediation not successful Forward for Professional Standards Hearing Mail Challenge Form showing Professional Standards Hearing Committee Members Set hearing date & notify both parties & panel members. 21 days’ notice required Hold Hearing

May appeal decision to Board of Directors within 20 days

or

Mail Challenge Form showing Professional Standards Hearing Committee Members

May appeal decision to Board of Directors within 20 days

Set hearing date & notify both parties & panel members. 21 days’ notice required Hold Hearing

“Findings of Facts” - notify both parties - 20 days to appeal if desired “Findings of Facts” validated by Board of Directors Validation notice by Board sent to both parties

“Award (if any) of Arbitrators” Notify both parties 20 days to appeal only on procedural review

Revised: 7/2007

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