Mandatory arbitration of certain business disputes is a membership obligation of the REALTOR® association and is also part of the Code of Ethics. Most arbitrable matters related to disputes among REALTORS® are commission disputes.
As with any problem that might arise from your relationship with fellow REALTORS®, the first step you should take is to talk to the other REALTOR®, and next, have your broker talk with the other REALTORS®'s broker or manager. Many difficulties between REALTORS® result from misunderstanding or miscommunication. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.
If these discussions are not successful in resolving the dispute, you may want to consider filing a request for arbitration.
Arbitration facilities are provided by the REALTOR® association as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. There are certain disputes that REALTORS® are obligated to arbitrate as a part of their membership duties; these can be found in Article 17 of the Code of Ethics and its related Standards of Practice.
Be aware that not every situation may be arbitrated at a REALTOR® association. Many disputes with clients or customers may not fall under the association's jurisdiction and must be handled through the civil courts. Also, disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration, which means further legal action would most likely be precluded.
Most disputes handled at the association are commission disputes among members. Commission disputes among REALTORS® from different firms are most likely mandated to be arbitrated. Your dispute must also be one that the association determines is an arbitratable issue. NAR Fact Situations, describing common disputes among REALTORS® and how they may be resolved, may also be of assistance to you in determining whether to file for arbitration.
The following steps should be taken when filing a Request to Arbitrate against another REALTOR®.
STEP ONE. Contact the Lincoln County Board of REALTORS® to determine if the other parties are members of the association. The LCBR handles all arbitration dispute processes for the counties of Lincoln, Tillamook, and Clatsup. Please continue reading for further information on the arbitration process before you call.
STEP TWO. Filing the arbitration request. A Request and Agreement to Arbitrate form needs to be completed. CLICK HERE to obtain the form.
Here are some general principles to keep in mind as you begin the process. The request must:
When completing the form, steps to follow are:
STEP THREE. Sending the complaint to the association. If you are ready to file your arbitration request concerning a member of one of the association, send it and the deposit check to:
Lincoln County Board of REALTORS®
Attn: Professional Standards Enforcement
2403 NW Hwy 101, Suite I
Lincoln City, OR 97367
STEP FOUR. The Grievance Committee's initial review. The association's Grievance Committee will review your Request to determine if it is appropriate to be arbitrated at the association. Remember, your request must involve a dispute that the procedures define as "arbitrable." If the Committee determines your Request is not arbitrable, it will be dismissed, and you will be informed about appeal options. The committee will also classify your request as a mandatory arbitration or a voluntary arbitration.
STEP FIVE. If the Grievance Committee forwards your case for a hearing, you will be advised by the association of the appropriate procedures and steps to take. Before any hearing is scheduled, however, you will be offered an opportunity to mediate the dispute with the other REALTOR®. Mediation involves an objective third-party mediator who will work with all parties in to the dispute to assist them in reaching a mutually agreed-upon resolution. If the mediation is successful and the parties reach and sign an agreement, it becomes judicially enforceable. Your arbitration deposit will also be returned. If the mediation is not successful, the matter will proceed to a hearing.
STEP SIX. The hearing will be scheduled shortly after the Grievance Committee has made their determination. The association will provide information about the procedures involved and will answer other questions you may have about the process. You may also want to review the NAR Arbitration Guidelines or the arbitration sections of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to help you prepare for your case. A copy of this manual may be viewed online at REALTOR.org.
CONCLUSION. Many commission disputes between REALTORS® arise from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an arbitration request, make reasonable efforts to communicate with the other REALTORS® involved. If these efforts are not fruitful, the association can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file a complaint.