Professional Standards

How to File an Ethics Complaint

Boards and Associations of REALTORS® are responsible for enforcing the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics imposes duties above and in addition to those imposed by law or regulation which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become REALTORS®. Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have a problem with a real estate professional, you may want to speak with them or with a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.

Before you File an Ethics Complaint

Please review the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and keep in mind that…

  1. Only REALTORS® and REALTOR®-Associates are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
  2. If the real estate professional (or their broker) you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the state real estate licensing authority or the courts.
  3. Boards and Associations of REALTORS® determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.
  4. Boards of REALTORS® can discipline REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase REALTORS®’ understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations. Boards and Associations of REALTORS® cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; cannot award “punitive damages” for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license. The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes.

Ethics complaints are handled by the Georgia Association of REALTORS®. To submit your complaint, please review these  Steps for Filing an Ethics Complaint. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Malikita Hall, Professional Standards Administrator and Legal Affairs Coordinator, at 678.597.4139. Questions may also be emailed to GAR's Legal Affairs Department at

How to File an Arbitration

Please note that only a broker member of a REALTOR® Association may file an arbitration request against another broker member of a REALTOR®Association. To verify if both brokers involved are members of an Association of REALTORS®, please contact the GAR Administrator listed below. Once confirmed, you will receive the necessary paperwork to file a Request for Arbitration.

A Request for Arbitration must be filed: 1) after the real estate transaction giving rise to the dispute has been completed; 2) within six months after the facts constituting the Arbitration matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence; 3) by the broker of a real estate agency.

Requests for Arbitration are handled by the Georgia Association of REALTORS®. To submit your request, please review these Steps for Filing an Arbitration Request. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Malikita Hall, Professional Standards Administrator and Legal Affairs Coordinator, at 678.597.4139. Questions may also be emailed to GAR's Legal Affairs Department at

Mandatory vs. Voluntary

If both brokers involved in the commission dispute are members of an Association of REALTORS®, then they must arbitrate through the Association rather than litigate the matter per Article 17 of the Code of Ethics.

Arbitration Process

In arbitrable cases, the Arbitration Committee convenes a panel of impartial, unbiased, and experienced REALTORS® to consider your case. Designed to ensure that the due process rights of all parties are protected, claimants and respondents may be represented by attorneys, call witnesses, present evidence, and challenge the qualifications of the panel members selected to hear the case.

The parties also enjoy a limited right to request a procedural review or file a legal challenge to the decision if they believe that there were procedural deficiencies or other irregularities that constitute a deprivation of due process. However, this is not an appeal of the decision itself, only the procedures used in conducting the hearing.


In addition to arbitration services, we also offer Mediation as an alternative for resolving commission or other business disputes. Mediation has become a popular alternative to arbitration because it is quicker, easier and provides the parties with more control over the final resolution of the dispute.

Mediation allows members to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution by providing an impartial third party to facilitate discussion between the parties. It is a process that is generally faster and less expensive than arbitration. Mediation also allows members to avoid the confrontational and adversarial nature of an arbitration hearing. The goal is to foster dialog and reach an understanding that allows the parties to find a middle ground to resolve the conflict.

Mediation vs. Arbitration

In arbitration, the parties are generally more concerned with testifying to the panel than talking through their dispute. Arbitration awards are generally an "all or nothing" proposition where one party is awarded money and the other is left with nothing. Feedback indicates that REALTORS® emerge from successful mediations with a higher level of satisfaction with the result than REALTORS® who participate in the arbitration. Therefore, the Member Services Department urges you to consider mediation as an alternative when filing an arbitration request. If mediation is unable to resolve the dispute, the parties can proceed to an arbitration hearing without delay.

Mediation is optional before the case gets forwarded to the Grievance Committee for initial screening. However, once the Grievance Committee has reviewed the case and if it determines that the case is arbitrable and mandatory arbitration, then the parties will have to attempt to resolve their business dispute via mediation before they can go to an arbitration hearing.

Mediate, don't arbitrate!

Watch NAR's one-minute video, which provides a brief summary of the benefits of mediation.

Contact Information

GAR Professional Standards Administrator

Malikita Hall
Professional Standards Administrator and Legal Affairs Coordinator

Questions may also be emailed to GAR's Legal Affairs Department at

Mediation vs. Arbitration

Watch NAR's one-minute video, which provides a brief summary of the benefits of mediation.

More information on GAR's website »