CAR is responsible for receiving and resolving ethics complaints. Many “complaints” do not expressly allege violations of specific Articles of the Code of Ethics, and many do not detail conduct related to the Code. Some “complaints” are actually relatively easy transactional, technical, or procedural questions.
We offer ombudsman procedures to help avert these kinds of complaints through enhanced communications and problem-solving at the local level.
The ombudsman’s role is primarily one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred, rather they anticipate, identify, and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct.
HOW DO I KNOW I’M ELIGIBLE FOR OMBUDSMAN PROCEDURES? CAN I DECLINE THE SERVICE?
Persons filing a complaint, or inquiring about the process for filing an ethics complaint, will be advised that ombudsman services are available to attempt to informally resolve their complaint. Such persons will also be advised that they may decline ombudsman services and have their complaint considered at a formal ethics hearing.
WHAT IF I FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THE AGREED-UPON RESOLUTION?
Failure or refusal of a member to comply with the terms of a mutually agreed-upon resolution shall entitle the complaining party to resubmit the original complaint or, where a formal complaint in the appropriate form had not been filed, to file an ethics complaint. The time at which the matter was originally brought to the board or association will be considered the filing date.
Will the Ombudsman Refer Concerns to the Grievance Committee or to State Regulatory Bodies?
Ombudsmen cannot refer concerns regarding the conduct of any party utilizing their services to the Grievance Committee, state real estate licensing authority or any other regulatory body. The prohibition is intended to ensure impartiality and avoid the possible appearance of bias. Ombudsmen are, however, authorized to refer concerns that the public trust may have been violated to the Grievance Committee.