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New Ombudsman Help Resolves Complaints

ombudsmanThere is now a new way that complaint calls into the Board office can be addressed that should increase the likelihood that they will be favorably resolved to the benefit of both the caller and the agent about whom the complaint is being lodged. The Dayton Area Board of REALTORS® has established the “Ombudsman HELP” program as a means to receive and resolve ethics and other complaints.

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Mediation…A Valuable Service

Even professionals who are committed to high standards of conduct will occasionally have honest business disputes. The Board, recognizing that there is an ongoing need for efficient and economical mechanisms to resolve disputes, provides mediation as an alternative to arbitration.

Mediation can resolve controversy, promote amicable resolutions and reduce the number of cases requiring the more formal and complex arbitration procedures of the Board, thus reducing the time and effort required of members serving on the Professional Standards Committee.

Participation in mediation procedures is entirely voluntary. However, if the parties agree to a settlement of the dispute, and the settlement has been signed by all of the parties, the matter is deemed resolved and cannot be the subject of a subsequent arbitration hearing.

The Board, upon receipt of a request for arbitration, will offer the parties involved the opportunity to participate in the mediation process. If the parties agree, the matter will be referred to a trained mediator who will arrange a mutually convenient time and location for mediation. Realizing that a controversy already exists between the parties, the mediator will make every effort to encourage a conciliatory atmosphere while ensuring a full exposition of all pertinent facts to effect a solution that will eliminate the need for arbitration.

If the mediation attempt is unsuccessful, or if either of the parties wished to discontinue the mediation process, for any reason, then mediation will be terminated and an arbitration hearing will be scheduled. Any offers of settlement that were not accepted or any suggested resolution proposed by the Mediation Officer that was not accepted will not be introduced as evidence nor considered in any manner should the matter require arbitration.

The mediation service is quicker, easier and more amicable than arbitration and it still resolves a business dispute that is agreeable to both parties.

Functions of the Grievance Committee

The Committee does not determine guilt or innocence. It will either:

  1. Forward the case for a hearing before the Professional Standards Committee, or
  2. Dismiss it, if the complaint is determined to be unfounded.

A Board of REALTORS® has limitations to its authority regarding its members. Below is a list of those limitations:

  1. The complaint must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the time that the alleged offense and facts relating to it could have been known by the complainant in the exercise of reasonable diligence.
  2. The Board cannot try a Board member for violations of Ohio real estate license law or any other alleged violation of the law. It has jurisdiction only over violations of a member's duty to abide by the Code of Ethics.
  3. For the same reason, the Board cannot suspend or terminate the license of one of its members.
  4. The Board can, in the case of an ethics violation being determined, 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
  • Fine the member up to $5,000 (this fine is not awarded to the complainant)
  • Place the member on probation
  • Suspend the membership of the REALTOR®
  • Expel the member from membership

     5.  Money damages or earnest money disputes cannot be part of an ethics proceeding.

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