Rules Roundup: Photograph Rules Changes (Jan 2023)

Rules Roundup: Photograph Rules Changes (Jan 2023)

The Rules Roundup provides a monthly accounting of RMLS rules violations and courtesy notifications. Our Data Accuracy team manages all reports of property listing errors, tracking 34 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.


Recently the RMLS Board of Directors voted to approve recommended changes from the Rules Committee. These changes will officially go into effect on March 13, 2023. Regarding the changes effecting Rules and Regulations section 3.8, current violations that will be officially allowed as of March 13 will not generate notifications between now and the date of implementation. The specific redline and changes to this rule are as follows:

3.8 Photographs. Listing Brokers may submit photographs for all listings to be Published in the RMLS System. The photographs are to be submitted without any added text or graphics, or any alterations that misrepresent the property.  Photographs shall not include people, copyrighted material, identifying or promotional information, names or locations of private entities and/or businesses, Fair Housing violations or alterations that misrepresent the property. Alterations to photographs to reflect lot lines, road names, arrows identifying the property and the names of public amenities shall be allowed so long as they are not misleading or otherwise in violation of this Rule. RMLS expressly reserves the right to deny usage of photographs that do not conform to RMLS Rules and Regulations. If there is virtual staging in any of the photographs it must be disclosed on the photograph with the “Virtually Staged” watermark. If Residential new construction has a photograph of a similar home it must be disclosed on the photograph with the “Sample Image” watermark. The first photograph of a listing in Coming Soon-No Showing status will be watermarked as “Coming Soon-No Showings”.


    The RMLS Rules and Regulations Committee reviews all formal complaints which allege a violation of the RMLS Rules and Regulations. The committee has the power to impose sanctions.

    The committee did not review any cases in January of 2023.


    Listings missing Tax ID information are typically the top informal violation within RMLSweb. Recently this rule has been edited to exclude Proposed and Under Construction property types. Because of this, there was a drop in the number of violations and now we are seeing Listings Set to Expire as the top violation for January 2023.

    The chart below shows the next three most frequent informal violations from January 2023. This month we saw a dramatic spike for Unauthorized Text in Photos, making it the fourth-most violated category.

    This pie chart shows the remainder of the informal violations last month.

    Data Accuracy Department Statistics 

    • Listings Reviewed: 21,750
    • Notices Sent: 1,807
    • Violation Notices Received: 323
    • Courtesy Notices Sent: 829
    • Phone Calls Received: 359

    How to Report Violations

    Subscribers have multiple options to report violations, including a Report Issue button on every RMLSweb listing. Subscribers can email our Data Accuracy team at or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

    Guide to RMLS Committees (Part 1)

    Guide to RMLS Committees (Part 1)

    Ever wonder what role committees play in shaping how RMLS functions?

    We have five committees that serve an integral role in developing the technology, standards, rules, and judicial functions of our MLS subscriber community.

    Each year the RMLS Chairman of the Board selects a committee chair for each group drawn from a member of the Board of Directors, who are then confirmed by the other board members. Aside from the Service Advisory Committee, the committees are filled by volunteers from the RMLS subscriber community. 

    Rules and Regulations Committee

    The Rules and Regulations Committee has two main functions. The first is that they meet monthly to review formal complaints of alleged rules violations. They are empowered to impose sanctions. 

     When a formal violation is received, an emailed letter is sent to the subscriber accused of the violation, asking them to reply to the allegation. After the reply has been received, the complaint and response are presented to the Rules Committee to review and then determine the sanction if deemed necessary.

    Sanctions are recorded anonymously within our monthly Rules Roundup article series

    The second function of the Rules and Regulations Committee is to discuss subscriber-submitted requests for rules changes, making recommendations to the Board of Directors.

    Hearings Committee

    The Hearings Committee exists in case the recipient of a sanction requests a hearing to appeal the decision of the Rules and Regulations Committee. Hearings are conducted in accordance with the procedures applicable to REALTOR® Professional Standards hearings.

    The Hearings Committee is composed of the Committee Chair and volunteers from the various committees at local associations who have undergone professional standards training.

    Hearings are relatively rare but when they do occur both the complainant and respondent are asked to attend the formal hearing. After each side has had an opportunity to present their case, the Hearings Committee will decide on whether to uphold the original Rules and Regulations Committee decision. This decision cannot be influenced by other violations and will not result in any increase of sanctions beyond the original amount that was imposed.

    In the second installment of this series, we’ll look at our Technology and Forms Committees.

    Changes to RMLS Rules and Regulations Effective January 6, 2022

    Changes to RMLS Rules and Regulations Effective January 6, 2022

    Acting on recommendations from the RMLS Rules Committee, the RMLS Board of Directors has approved changes to the RMLS Rules and Regulations. These changes affect Availability for Showing (Rule 3.27), Consideration of Alleged Violations (Rule 4.1), and Sanctions (Rule 5.1) and will be effective as of January 6, 2022.

    To review the upcoming changes, you can review the redline version of the updated RMLS Rules and Regulations here, or refer to the highlight summary below.

    Availability for Showing

    The changes to Rule 3.27 add an exception to the requirement that all active listings be available for showing immediately upon entry into the RMLS system by excluding situations involving uncooperative tenants:

    For listings that are tenant occupied and where the tenant is uncooperative and will not grant access to the property, the Participant shall submit within the RMLS system the Uncooperative Tenant Unavailable for Showings form or equivalent document signed by the owner or an asset manager for REO listing to RMLS within 24 hours after all necessary signatures have been obtained.

    The “Uncooperative Tenant – Unavailable for Showings Form” (Document 1265) is a new form that allows the Seller’s Agent to acquire a written statement from the owner or asset manager for REO listings to state that there is an uncooperative tenant who is not allowing showings.

    Consideration of Alleged Violations

    As a REALTOR®-owned MLS, RMLS strives to align with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) MLS Model Rules. Language within Rule 4.1 has been updated to reflect that alignment:

    The Rules and Regulations Committee of the RMLS Board of Directors shall give consideration to all written complaints from Participants, Subscribers, and RMLS Staff alleging violations of the Rules and Regulations. By becoming and remaining a Participant or subscriber in this MLS, each Participant and subscriber agrees to be subject to these rules and regulations and any other MLS governance provision, the enforcement of which are determined by RMLS staff, Rules and Regulations Committee, and the RMLS Board of Directors.


    Several changes, including a formal cycle of discipline and increased sanction amounts, were made to Rule 5.1 in order to assist enforcement of MLS regulations. These changes include:

        • Language was added to denote the type of discipline that can be imposed by the RMLS Rules and Regulations Committee / Hearing Committee in accordance with the NAR MLS Model Rules.
        • The individual sanctions list, with an updated format for readability, now outlines the allowable discipline for rules violations and other MLS governance provisions:

    RMLS may, through the administrative and hearing procedures established in these rules, impose discipline for violations of the rules and other MLS governance provisions. Discipline that may be imposed may only consist of one or more of the following:

          • letter of warning
          • letter of reprimand
          • attendance at MLS orientation or other appropriate courses or seminars which the Participant or subscriber can reasonably attend taking into consideration cost, location, and duration
          • appropriate, reasonable fine not to exceed $15,000
          • suspension of MLS rights, privileges, and services for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, except suspensions for failure to pay appropriate dues, fees, or charges
          • expulsion from MLS and termination of MLS rights, privileges, and services with no right to reapply for a specified period not to exceed one (1) year.
    • Individual sanction amounts were reviewed and adjusted, with all sanctions now being at least $100. The most significant changes are:
        • Lockbox Access sanction – maximum fine has increased from $2,500 to $15,000
        • Password sanction – maximum fine increased from $2,500 to $15,000
        • Marketing of Listing Prior to RMLS Publication – maximum fine has increased from $1,000 to $1,500
        • Showing a Property in Coming Soon-No Showing Status – maximum fine has increased from $1,000 to $1,500
        • Marketing of Coming Soon-No Showing – maximum fine has increased from $1,000 to $1,500

    If you have any questions about these changes, please contact the RMLS Data Accuracy department at or 503.395.1916.