An ombudsman is an individual appointed to receive and resolve disputes through constructive communication and advocacy for consensus and understanding.
Ombudsman procedures, which may be adopted and utilized at the discretion of boards and associations, are intended to provide enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacities at the local level.
Boards and associations of REALTORS® are charged with the responsibility of receiving and resolving ethics complaints. This obligation is carried out by local, regional and state grievance committees and professional standards committees.
Many “complaints” received by boards and associations 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 transactional, technical, or procedural questions readily responded to.
It is the belief of the National Association’s Professional Standards Committee that many ethics complaints might be averted with enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity at the local level. These ombudsman procedures, which may be adopted and utilized at the discretion of boards and associations, are intended to provide that capacity.
Role of Ombudsmen
The ombudsman’s role is primarily one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred; instead, they anticipate, identify and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters turn into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct.