Arbitration Requests

By virtue of becoming and remaining a member of a Board and having signed an agreement to abide by Board bylaws, every member agrees to bind themselves and the company for whom they act to submit disputes “arising out of a real estate transaction” to arbitration as defined in Article 17 of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics.

Furthermore, membership termination from the Board will not absolve the member of arbitration duty for disputes arising when the person was a member of the Board.

Disputes subject to arbitration include disputes with other REALTOR® members arising out of real estate business and their relationship as REALTORS® (usually over the distribution of a commission) and in specified contractual disputes with a member’s client arising out of an agency relationship between the member and client (provided the client agrees to submit the dispute to binding arbitration with the association and be bound by the arbitration award).

REALTOR® members filing for arbitration of a dispute involving the responsible broker at the time of the dispute (but not between the member and responsible broker) must have the responsible broker join in the dispute and filing of a complaint.

Members and the Board are not bound to arbitrate disputes between members of the same firm unless each party agrees in writing to the arbitration of such disputes under the Board’s facilities or a copy of the Independent Contractor’s Agreement specifying that the matter be considered at the Board is presented. Similarly, if members enter into separate agreements to arbitrate disputes outside of the Board (e.g. the American Arbitration Association); this separate agreement would supersede the obligation to arbitrate the dispute at the Board.

This would not include an attempt to bypass the arbitration process by filing a civil lawsuit against another member. In this case the respondent member can request the court to compel arbitration at the local association in accordance with the arbitration agreement; however, failure by the respondent to make this request of the court would waive the right of the parties to arbitrate at the local association.

Associations may also refuse arbitrations that clearly did not arise out of the real estate business, are clearly beyond the time frame for submission of an arbitration complaint, are legally too complex, or the amount involved in the dispute is considered too large or too small. If an arbitral matter is involved in litigation at the time a complaint is filed, the arbitration will not be heard at the Association unless litigation is withdrawn or the courts refer the matter back to the Association.

If a member holds membership in several different associations, another member can file a complaint at any association where the other member holds membership or where both members have common membership.

If both an ethics complaint and a request for arbitration are received concerning the same event, the Association will wait until the arbitration has been concluded before proceeding with the ethics complaint. Also, if more than one arbitration complaint is received concerning the same event, the requests will be combined and considered in one arbitration hearing. And under no circumstances are punitive damages awarded or will an award exceed more than the amount specified in the dispute.

To file an arbitration complaint you must:

  • Complete, sign and date the Arbitration Complaint Form, which you may download and print from this website. Arbitration request forms should be typed or printed and indicate the amount in dispute and should be submitted with a legible narrative explaining why you feel you are entitled to an award, with any pertinent exhibits and attachments clearly marked. Eight (8) legible copies of all documents must accompany the arbitration request.
  • The complaint must be filed within one hundred and eighty days (180) from the date the transaction closes or from the time the facts giving rise to the dispute occurred.
  • Include an arbitration filing fee of $175 made payable to the Tahoe Sierra Board of REALTORS®.
  • Obtain the complaining broker’s signature on all requests to arbitrate. Arbitration may not proceed with the salesperson as the sole complainant.
  • Be sure to determine the necessary and appropriate respondent depending on the circumstances of the dispute—usually the responsible broker in a commission dispute.

Role of Board Staff

The Professional Standards Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the professional standards process of paperwork administration, notifications, correspondence, and maintenance of the confidential case files is done in a timely and efficient manner according to the policies and procedures set forth in the California and National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards manuals. The staff is not allowed to dispense legal advice or counsel you on your case.

The entire arbitration complaint process usually takes a minimum of 75 days but may take longer. It is the ultimate duty of staff to ensure due process to all parties. You can assist staff by making sure that additional requests for information and any pertinent deadlines in the process are responded to in a timely manner.

If you have procedural questions about requesting arbitration, please contact Sue Ruane, Chief Executive Officer at (530) 583-0275 or

Arbitration Complaint Form