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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.

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 2020 REALTOR® Code of Ethics (797 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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