The following individuals may file an arbitration request:
- REALTOR® members who are principal brokers.
- REALTOR® members who are not principals, provided his or her principal broker joins in the request.
- Clients or customers of REALTORS®.
NOTE: Disputes involving clients or customers require that they sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration. The Association’s Professional Standards Committee will determine whether the Complainant is a client or a customer and if the dispute is one that the Association can process.
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 L.A.R.A., each REALTOR® binds him or herself to arbitrate certain disputes.
Not every situation may be arbitrated by the Association. Conditions and limitations exist which you must consider. The Association will explain these conditions and limitations to you.
Requests for arbitration must be filed within 180 days after the closing of the transaction, if any, or within 180 days after the facts constituting the arbitratable matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later.
To submit an arbitration request to the Association, take the following steps:
- Complete and sign the request and agreement to arbitrate form. Name the REALTOR®(s) / Company(ies) in question as the Respondent(s).
- Indicate the amount in dispute.
- Include an explanation of the situation. State why you feel you are entitled to an award of some kind. (Do not 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).
- Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, closing statements, etc. Also include any notarized affidavits you may have from witnesses.
- You must include a $500.00 deposit (public exempt from this fee) with your arbitration request.
- When you sign the request and agreement to arbitrate, this in dictated your commitment to abide by the decision of the Hearing Panel.
- Send the entire package, keeping a copy for yourself, to Char Glocke, La Crosse Area REALTORS® Association, 111 6th St. South, La Crosse, WI 54601.
It is not unusual for an Association to receive an ethics complaint and an arbitration request surrounding the same set of circumstances. If you think the REALTOR®(s) violated the Code of Ethics and you have a monetary dispute with that person, you must complete both an ethics complaint form and an arbitration request form.
Upon receipt of a written request for arbitration, the Professional Standards Administrator will inquire of each party as to whether they are willing to participate in Mediation. If all parties agree, the matter will be referred to a Mediation Officer. A mutually convenient time and location for the Mediation will be arranged with the parties. Participation in Mediation is voluntary on the part of each party.
The objectives of Mediation are to resolve controversies by promoting friendly, amicable resolutions and to facilitate the repair of business relationships, thereby enhancing the possibility of continuing those relationships thereafter.
The Mediation Officer shall have no authoritative decision-making power. The role of the Mediation Officer shall be to assist the parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute.
In the event the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution, a written agreement shall be prepared by the Mediation Officer, signed by the parties, and the arbitration request shall be dismissed with the arbitration filling fees being returned to each party. In the event Mediation is unsuccessful, the matter shall be referred for an arbitration hearing.
A Grievance Panel made up of three members of the Associations Professional Standards Committee may review your arbitration request. A preliminary investigation to determine whether the matter is subject to Association arbitration will be made. Arbitration is sometimes a duty and sometimes a privilege. It will be determined whether your situation fits into the duty or the privilege category.
- To determine which category an arbitration fits into, the following four points are considered:
- Whether you are authorized, under the rules, to invoke arbitration;
- Whether the controversy described is an arbitrable matter;
- Whether the arbitration is mandatory or voluntary to the people involved (this simply means whether arbitrating the dispute is compulsory or not);
- 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.
You may appeal a dismissal of an arbitration request to the Board of Directors. The Directors review only the materials submitted to the Grievance Panel and can uphold or overturn the Panel’s dismissal.
If a Grievance Panel refers your arbitration request to a hearing, you will be notified of the hearing date, time and place. An arbitration hearing provides an opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to explain his or her side of the story by presenting testimony, evidence and witnesses, if any.
Once all the facts have been presented, an Arbitration Hearing Panel, consisting of members of the Professional Standards Committee, will determine how the dispute should be settled. An arbitration award may not be more than the amount in dispute. In no circumstances will the Association award punitive damages.
The Association will inform you about each step of this process as it occurs. The Association will also give you instructions about hearing procedures prior to the hearing.
If you have questions relating to filing an arbitration request, please call the La Crosse Area REALTORS® Association 608-785-7744.