Professional Standards

Arbitration for REALTORS®

Mandatory arbitration of certain business disputes is a membership obligation of the REALTOR® association and is also part of the Code of Ethics. Most arbitrable matters related to disputes among REALTORS® are commission disputes.

Filing an Arbitration Request

As with any problem that might arise from your relationship with fellow REALTORS®, the first step you should take is to talk to the other REALTOR®, and next, have your broker talk with the other REALTORS®'s broker or manager. Many difficulties between REALTORS® result from misunderstanding or miscommunication. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.

If these discussions are not successful in resolving the dispute, you may want to consider filing a request for arbitration.

Arbitration facilities are provided by the REALTOR® association as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. There are certain disputes that REALTORS® are obligated to arbitrate as a part of their membership duties; these can be found in Article 17 of the Code of Ethics and its related Standards of Practice.

Be aware that not every situation may be arbitrated at a REALTOR® association. Many disputes with clients or customers may not fall under the association's jurisdiction and must be handled through the civil courts. Also, disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration, which means further legal action would most likely be precluded.

Most disputes handled at the association are commission disputes among members. Commission disputes among REALTORS® from different firms are most likely mandated to be arbitrated. Your dispute must also be one that the association determines is an arbitrable issue. NAR Fact Situations, describing common disputes among REALTORS® and how they may be resolved, may also be of assistance to you in determining whether to file for arbitration.

The following steps should be taken when filing a Request to Arbitrate against another REALTOR®.

STEP ONE. Contact the Utah Association of REALTORS® to determine if the other parties are members of the association. If the agent belongs to the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®, you must call (801) 542-8840. The UAR handles all arbitration dispute processes for the state of Utah, with the exception of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®. Please continue reading for further information on the arbitration process before you call.

STEP TWO. Filing the arbitration request. A Request and Agreement to Arbitrate form needs to be completed. CLICK HERE to obtain the form.

Here are some general principles to keep in mind as you begin the process. The request must:

  • be in writing.
  • be signed by the Complainant(s).
  • state the amount in dispute.
  • be filed within 180 days after the closing or 180 days after the facts could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later.

When completing the form, steps to follow are:

  • Name the REALTOR® firm involved and all of the REALTORS® involved. This will help the Grievance Committee determine whether the right people are named, whether there is a contractual basis for the claim, and more.
  • You must name at least one REALTOR® principal of the firm, and, if you are not a principal in your firm, you must get one of your firm's REALTOR® principals to sign the Request to Arbitrate, as commission disputes are between the principals of the firms involved. [REALTOR® principal is defined in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual as: "Principal" is defined as a principal, partner, corporate officer or branch office manager standing in the shoes of the owners of a real estate firm. For more details, please consult the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Section 26 (k).]
  • Indicate the amount in dispute.
  • Include an explanation of the situation. State why you believe you are entitled to the award in your Request for Arbitration. If you think there have been ethical violations, they can be handled separately with an ethics complaint.
  • Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, closing statements, etc., plus any notarized statements from witnesses.
  • The Utah Association of REALTORS® requires a $250 arbitration deposit. Should your request be forwarded for a hearing and should you prevail at the hearing, this deposit will be returned to you. If you do not prevail at the hearing, the deposit will be retained by the association to help cover costs. Include a $250 check made to "UAR" with your written Request for Arbitration.

STEP THREE. Sending the complaint to the association. If you are ready to file your arbitration request concerning a member of one of the association, send it and the deposit check to:

Utah Association of REALTORS®
Attn: Professional Standards Enforcement
230 West Towne Ridge Parkway, Suite 500
Sandy, UT 84070

If you are filing a request for arbitration concerning a member of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®, contact the board directly at (801) 542-8840. If you are a member of another local board, you may opt to have the UAR process your arbitration request concerning a member of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®.

STEP FOUR. The Grievance Committee's initial review. The association's Grievance Committee will review your Request to determine if it is appropriate to be arbitrated at the association. Remember, your request must involve a dispute that the procedures define as "arbitrable." If the Committee determines your Request is not arbitrable, it will be dismissed, and you will be informed about appeal options. The committee will also classify your request as a mandatory arbitration or a voluntary arbitration. Contact the UAR at (801) 676-5200 if you have questions on mandatory vs. voluntary arbitration.

STEP FIVE. If the Grievance Committee forwards your case for a hearing, you will be advised by the association of the appropriate procedures and steps to take. Before any hearing is scheduled, however, you will be offered an opportunity to mediate the dispute with the other REALTOR®. Mediation involves an objective third-party mediator who will work with all parties in to the dispute to assist them in reaching a mutually agreed-upon resolution. If the mediation is successful and the parties reach and sign an agreement, it becomes judicially enforceable. Your arbitration deposit will also be returned. If the mediation is not successful, the matter will proceed to a hearing. Learn more about mediation of arbitrable issues.

STEP SIX. The hearing will be scheduled shortly after the Grievance Committee has made their determination. The association will provide information about the procedures involved and will answer other questions you may have about the process. You may also want to review the NAR Arbitration Guidelines or the arbitration sections of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to help you prepare for your case. A copy of this manual may be viewed at the UAR office or online at REALTOR.org.

CONCLUSION. Many commission disputes between REALTORS® arise from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an arbitration request, make reasonable efforts to communicate with the other REALTORS® involved. If these efforts are not fruitful, the association can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file a complaint.