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Internet Scams and Fraud

We take security and safety very seriously. If you have any instances of scams, internet and/or email fraud with listings or the like, please contact:

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FBI
Claremont Tower
11 Centre Place
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 792-3000
Fax: (973) 792-3035

http://www.fbi.gov/newark

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Examples of Rental and Real Estate Scams

Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate on-line. The Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate on-line.

Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.

Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker's real name to create a fake email, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an email through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The "owner" claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.

If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

 (Source: www.ic3.gov)

Professional Conduct Introduction

Professional Conduct Introduction

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics pdf 2019 Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (788 KB) represent a promise of professionalism by all who become REALTORS® which include; Duties to Clients and the Public and to other REALTORS®. As a result the term REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness and high integrity. Enforcement of the Code supports the REALTORS®' commitment to protecting the public and preserving a competitive marketplace.

The Burlington Camden County Association of REALTORS® provides its consumers and members multiple opportunities to resolve issues of potentially unethical conduct. These claims may be resolved through a full due process hearing or by use of the ombudsman, mediation or other programs.

Resolving a Complaint

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If you have a complaint against the real estate licensee you are working with, you should first make an attempt to talk to the broker to see if the issue can be resolved. If those efforts are unsuccessful, two avenues exist for making a formal filing regarding a licensee's behavior.

The first is to file a complaint with the New Jersey Real Estate Commission. The Commission is the government agency that issues and maintains licenses and writes the Rules and Regulations to which all New Jersey licensees must subscribe. The Commission will investigate the complaint and, if violations against the license law are found, can impose sanctions ranging from fines to license revocation. www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_rec/index.htm

The second is only available if the real estate licensee is a member of the REALTOR® organization. NEXUS' REALTOR® members subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics, and we are charged with ensuring its enforcement. It is because of a REALTORS® obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics that you can file a complaint at NEXUS. View the pdf 2019 Code of Ethics (788 KB)

NEXUS DOES NOT determine whether the license law or regulations have been broken. Sanctions from the association tend to be educational in nature, but can include fines and suspension from the association.


 

Before Filing a Complaint

Who's involved?

Before processing a complaint with an Association of REALTORS®, you must first determine if the real estate agent involved is a REALTOR®. 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 a REALTOR®'s obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics that you can file a complaint at an Association of REALTORS®.

Determining what type of complaint to file

Before processing a complaint with your Association, you must determine whether your complaint concerns an ethics matter or an arbitration of a dispute.

    Ethics complaint: Charges that a REALTOR® violated an Article(s) of the Code of Ethics. Arbitration provides a means for resolving a dispute about a real estate transaction that the parties have been unable to solve themselves.

    Arbitration complaint or request: Often involves one member in disagreement with another member, usually over a commission dispute. Sometimes, an arbitration concerns a dispute between a member of the public and an Association member.

If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, the Association will handle the arbitration portion separately. The Association will consider the ethics complaint only after it has completed the arbitration. The Association always holds arbitration first.

Who may file an ethics complaint?

Anyone, Association Member or not, may file an ethics complaint against an Association Member alleging a Code of Ethics violation. However, the complaint must be in writing, be signed by the complainant, state the facts surrounding the case and be filed within 180 days after the facts became known.

The Complainant may file a complaint from any location. However, the Complainant must file it with the Association having jurisdiction over the individual named in the complaint.

Who may file an arbitration request?

REALTORS® who are principal brokers and clients/customers of REALTORS® may file an arbitration request. If the principal broker joins in the request, REALTORS® who are not principals may also file these requests.

Similar to the ethics complaint, an arbitration request must be in writing, be signed by the Complainant, indicate the amount in dispute and be filed within 180 days after the facts became known.

The Association provides arbitration facilities as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. By becoming and remaining a member of the Association of REALTORS®, each REALTOR® binds himself/herself to arbitrate certain disputes.

Not every situation may be arbitrated at the Association. Conditions and limitations exist which you must consider. The Association will explain these conditions and limitations to you as the process continues.

NOTE: Disputes involving clients or customers require that they sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration. The Association's Grievance Committee will determine whether the complainant is a client or a customer and if the dispute is one that the Association can process.

Power of the Association

An Association of REALTORS® possesses limited authority regarding its members. Note the following limitations:

  1. The Association cannot try a member for the violations of the New Jersey real estate license law or any other alleged violations of the law. Its jurisdiction only covers violations of membership duties. The New Jersey Real Estate Commission solely controls the real estate agent's license to sell real estate. If you think a person has violated the law, you should contact another agency.

  2. For the same reason, the Association cannot suspend or terminate the license of one of its members.

  3. The Association can administer discipline to the REALTOR®. This would happen only in the case of an ethics violation being determined in a due process hearing procedure. The Association can use one or more of the following ways to discipline a member:

    • Send letter of warning or reprimand to the member

    • Direct member to attend an ethics class or training approriate to the violation

    • Fine the member up to $2,500 (this fine is not awarded to the complainant)

    • Place the member on probation

    • Suspend membership of the REALTOR®

    • Expel the member from membership
  4. An ethics proceeding may not include money damages.

  5. Associations can arbitrate some money disputes and must in certain situations. But, the member of the public must agree in writing to arbitrate the dispute and to be bound by the decision.

  6. An arbitration award may not be more than the amount in dispute. In no instance will the Association award 'punitive' damages.

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Community Information

Community Information

 

Filing a Complaint

Processing a Complaint
Two Committees of the Association handle the complaints -- The Grievance Committee and the Professional Standards Committee. Their functions are described next.

What is the Grievance Committee?
Generally, the Grievance Committee functions somewhat like a grand jury. However, it plays a different role in both an ethics complaint case and an arbitration case.

Ethics - The Grievance Committee reveiws complaints received by the Association. The Committee determines whether the complaint sufficiently merits further consideration. It does not determine guilt or innocence. After reviewing the complaint the committee will either:

  1. Forward the case for a hearing
  2. Dismiss it, if the complaint is determined to be frivolous, harrassing or unfounded, or
  3. Postpone its decision to get more information from you or to determine that the case may be more appropriately considered for arbitration.

Also, before they reach a decision, the Committee may request a reply from the Respondent(s) regarding your complaint. If the Committee dismisses your complaint, you have the right to appeal dismissal to the Board of Directors. In the case of an appeal, the Directors re-examine only the materials submitted to the Grievance Committee. The Directors can then either uphold or overturn the Committee's decision. If your complaint merits further consideration, it will be sent to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing.

Arbitration - The Grievance Committee's role in arbitration functions only to make a preliminary investigation. The results of this investigation will determine whether the matter is subject to arbitration. Arbitration is sometimes a duty and sometimes a privilege. The Grievance Committee must decide whether your situation fits into the duty or the privilege category.To determine which category an arbitration fits into, the Grievance Committee must consider these four points:

  1. Whether you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke arbitration.
  2. Whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter.
  3. Whether the arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved (this simply means whether arbitrating the dispute is compulsory, or not).
  4. Whether either the amount in dispute is too small or too large, or the matter is too legally complex for the Association to consider.

Such a review could result in releasing Association members from their obligation to arbitrate. This would free you to seek other recourse in order to resolve the dispute.

If the Grievance Committee determines that a matter is arbitrable, it may also notify the parties that a mediation procedure is available as a preliminary, voluntary alternative to arbitration. If the Committee forwards the complaint or request for a hearing, it is assigned to the Professional Standards Committee.

You may also appeal a dismissal of an arbitration request to the Executive Committee. The Directors review the information and can uphold or overturn the Grievance Committee's decision.

What is the Professional Standards Committee?
The function of the committee is to hold ethics and arbitration hearings. If the Respondent(s) has not already been requested to reply to your complaint, he will be at this time. A hearing will then be scheduled and you will be notified of the hearing's date, time and place. The 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, a Hearing Panel, consisting of members of the Association chosen on the basis of experience, temperament and objectivity, will determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, or, in the case of an arbitration, how the dispute should be settled.

The Association will inform you about each step of this process as it occurs. The Association will also give you instructions about the hearing procedures prior to the hearing. The entire process will usually take a minimum of 60 days, but may take longer.

How to file an ethics complaint  - 

  1. Complete and Sign the complaint form pdf E1 Complaint (136 KB) . This form requests you to name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s).
  2. List the Article(s) of the Code of Ethics that you think the REALTOR® violated. (The Association will also supply you with a copy of the Code of Ethics).
  3. Attach an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. Be as specific as possible. State what, when, where, why and how you think the REALTOR®(s) violated each Article.
  4. Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, addendums, etc. If you have notarized statements from witnesses, include those also.
  5. Send the entire package, keeping a copy for yourself, to the Association of REALTORS® to the attention of the Executive Officer. The Grievance Committee will then process your complaint.

How to file an arbitration request - for REALTORS®

  1. Complete and Sign the arbitration form  pdf A1 (586 KB) pdf (144 KB) . Name the REALTOR®(s) in question as the Respondent(s).
  2. Indicate the amount in dispute.
  3. Include an explanation of the situation surrounding the complaint. State why you feel you are entitled to an award of some kind. Remember, don't include unethical allegations in your argument. If you think the REALTOR®(s) violated the Code of Ethics, the Association can handle this separately through an ethics complaint.
  4. Attach 15 copies of all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, closing statements, etc. Also, include any notarized statements you may have from witnesses.
  5. Include a $500 deposit with your arbitration request. The prevailing party in an arbitration will receive their $500 back from the Association.
  6. Send all of these items to the Association to the attention of the Executive Officer. The Grievance Committee will then process your request.

History
The National Association of REALTORS® adopted the Code of Ethics in 1913. Since then, REALTORS® everywhere have agreed to meet the Code's high standards. View the 
pdf 2019 Code of Ethics (788 KB)

The professional standards process plays a very important role in an Association of REALTORS®. It helps to ensure honorable, faithful and competent service to clients, customers and other members of the public by enforcing the Code of Ethics.

The Burlington Camden County Association of REALTORS® prepared this document to help you understand the professional standards process.

For more information or questions on filing a complaint, contact Kim at (856) 428-1013 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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