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Disclosing Identity of Complaining Party

Q: I was recently notified that a complaint had been made against me to my State Appraisal Licensing Board. This is the first time something like this has happened to me and I am frustrated and furious. I got a letter from an investigator asking me to send them an exact copy of the appraisal report I provided to my client, along with a copy of my work file. I read this letter over several times trying to figure out who made this complaint, and why. There was no such information in the letter, so I called the investigator. I was told that they do not disclose the identity of the complaining party, or the nature of the complaint. How can they do that? Isn’t this Un-American? Isn’t every one entitled to Due Process and the right to confront their accuser? Why do I have to cooperate when I cannot even find out who has launched this attack against me?

A: I understand how frustrating and stressful this process can be, especially when you are in the dark about what is going on. How complaints are handled differs from state to state. In many states the appraiser is provided with a copy of the complaint, so he or she knows who made the complaint and exactly what they are complaining about. In other states, like yours, the appraiser is only told that a complaint has been made and that an investigation is ongoing. There really is nothing you can do but cooperate. Provide the investigator with what has been requested and then be prepared to wait for a minimum of 6 months before you can expect to hear anything further. The only way that you will find out who made the complaint is if the investigator concludes that your report is not compliant with USPAP. He will then refer the matter to the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General will provide you with their Findings and with some proposed discipline. If you dispute the results of the investigation, they will have to provide you with the contents of their file...including the original complaint. That is the only way you will find out the identity of the complaining party.

To find out more about your state’s policies, visit your state licensing board’s website.

The following is text from an actual State Board appraiser complaint notice (from Pennsylvania):

The purpose of this letter is twofold. First, it is to inform you that the Professional Compliance Office of the Department of State’s Office of Chief Counsel, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA), has received a complaint concerning the above referenced appraisal report.

The second purpose is to obtain from you a true and complete copy of your appraisal report and work file so that this office may perform a proper review of this matter. Additionally, you should submit any report(s)/work file(s) concerning the above-referenced property prepared subsequent to the above-referenced signature date, as well as any report(s)/work file(s) prepared within (3) years prior to the above-referenced signature date.

Please see the enclosed Appraisal Work File Submission Instructions for important information about why you must submit your documentation to this office, how to submit your documentation, and special instructions about maintaining your work file. Please submit your documentation to this office within (30) days.

Since the matter is still under investigation, our office cannot provide you with any additional information such as complainant’s name or the part(s) of the appraisal that have been called into question (See Section 708(b)(17) of the Right to Know Law). Upon receipt of your appraisal report and work file, we will determine if additional information is required that would not be contained in your work file. If additional information is required, one of the BPOA’s investigators will contact you to arrange an interview.

Please note that the BPOA receives requests for investigation from many sources such as lenders, buyers and sellers, other appraisers, real estate agents, federal agencies, courts, and attorneys.

Given the wide variety of individuals or organizations which may have come in contact with your appraisal, please do not assume that any particular party has requested the current investigation.

Thank you for your time and consideration to this matter and anticipated prompt response.

Click here to view sample of State Board complaint notice (California)

Click here to view sample of State Board complaint notice (Nevada)

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