Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

HIGHLIGHTS

RMLS staff utilize software to flag certain words that may indicate HUD violations. It is important to note that receiving a violation with flagged HUD wording does not necessarily mean that listing has a fair housing violation.

We err on the side of caution and follow the best practices laid out by the Fair Housing Coalition of Oregon to prevent potential violations, thereby protecting ourselves and our subscribers.

“Oregon’s laws protect people from being treated differently because of your: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, whether or not you have kids, disability (also: source of income, domestic violence survivors, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity).”

Here are the best practices we follow:

Describe the home and not the people who will live there

  • This means avoid any attempts to sell a “lifestyle” or assume the characteristics of the person who will be potentially buying the home. This is a slippery slope and unfair to assume that you know what type of person would be interested in the home you are marketing.
  • Homes should be marketed using the characteristics and features of the home to attract people interested in those things.

Avoid advertising tactics that could be perceived as “steering” or targeting

  • According to the National Association of REALTORS®, steering is the practice of influencing a buyer’s choice of communities based upon one of the protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act, which are race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin.
  • A common example we often see is highlighting a specific church or religious organization near the home.

Be cognizant of advertising that could be perceived as “chilling”

  • An example of this would be using words like “exclusive,” “privileged,” and “elite” or words with similar meanings.
  • Focus on inclusive advertising and ask yourself if any groups or protected classifications are being unconsciously left out in your marketing or advertising.
  • Human models or renderings can be perceived as exclusionary, which is why we do not allow people in photos.

FORMAL VIOLATIONS

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 reviewed no cases in May 2024.

INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. Some notable gains and decreases are noted below.

  • Duplicate Listings fell from 40 to 2.
  • Conditions to Compensate fell from 22 to 6.
  • Missing Owner Name fell from 207 to 9.
  • HUD went from 38 to 125.
  • Personal Promotion jumped from 130 to 175.

    Data Accuracy Department Statistics

    The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

    • Listings Reviewed: 28,532 (+2,181)
    • Notices Sent: 2,353 (+288)
    • Violation Notices Received: 424 (+68)
    • Courtesy Notices Sent: 2,050 (+254)
    • Phone Calls Received: 577 (+10)

    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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

    Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

    Rules Roundup: Active Listings With ‘No Showings’ in the Remarks (Apr. 2024)

    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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    This month, we saw an increase in the violation Remarks Indicate No Showings. This violation occurs when a property is listed as Active, but the remarks state that showings are not permitted.

    Any property in Active status must be available for showing at the time it is marked as Active. If showings will not be available for a period, the property should remain in, or be put into, Withdrawn status.

    The only exception to this rule is if a tenant is present and uncooperative regarding showings. In such cases, an Uncooperative Tenant form should be filled out and submitted to dataaccuracy@rmls.com to keep on file.

    Phrases like “showings only after approved offer” violate this rule and are not allowed. However, wording such as “showings only to pre-approved buyers” is permitted and does not violate this rule.

    FORMAL VIOLATIONS

    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 reviewed no cases in April 2024.

    INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

    The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. Some notable gains and decreases are noted below.

    • Duplicate Listings fell from 40 to 2.
    • Conditions to Compensate fell from 22 to 6.
    • Missing Owner Name fell from 207 to 9.
    • HUD went from 38 to 125.
    • Personal Promotion jumped from 130 to 175.

      Data Accuracy Department Statistics

      The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

      • Listings Reviewed: 26,351 (+3,618)
      • Notices Sent: 2,067 (+53)
      • Violation Notices Received: 356 (-104)
      • Courtesy Notices Sent: 1,796 (+119)
      • Phone Calls Received:  567 (-22)

      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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

      Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

      Rules Roundup: Dispute Resolution for Reported Violations (Mar. 2024)

      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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

      HIGHLIGHTS

      Dispute Resolution for Reported Violations

      We’d like to offer insight into our dispute resolution process and how we address reported violations.

      There are three methods for reporting violations:

      • Phone
      • Email
      • Report Issue button (directly on listings).

      Upon receipt, a Data Accuracy staff member assesses the report to determine if it constitutes a violation and identifies the type of violation involved. There are two types:

      • Informal
      • Formal

      If the reported violation could be classified as formal, we typically consult with the reporting party to ascertain whether they prefer us to educate the agent being reported or to proceed with a formal violation submission.

      Should the reporting party opt to submit a formal violation, we direct them to form 1452, which initiates the formal violation process.

      • A notice is sent to the respondent broker informing them of the violation and requesting a response to the violation.
      • Both parties’ submissions are presented to the Rules Committee at the next meeting for review
      • The Rules Committee deliberates on the violation to determine if a violation occurred. If it did, they would issue a fine in accordance with the violation.
      • The respondent broker is then informed in writing of the decision made by the Rules Committee. If a fine was issued, they have the right to appeal that decision to the hearings committee.

      For informal violations, we engage with the reported agent in one of three ways:

      • Send a violation notice through the Listing Data Checker
      • Initiate a discussion via phone call
      • Send an email notification

       We will continue to reach out to the agent until a resolution is achieved. In instances where attempts to contact the agent yield no response after multiple attempts, we involve the designated broker in the communication.

      Maintaining fair practices and standards is best accomplished by partnership between RMLS and our subscriber community.

      FORMAL VIOLATIONS

      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 reviewed three cases in March 2024 resulting in fines of $250 (marketing property before publishing), $250 (solicitation of a listing under contract), and $200 (input or status change over 24 hours).

      INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

      The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. Some notable gains and decreases are noted below. 

      • Missing Owner Name almost doubled, going from 107 to 207.
      • Duplicate Listings and Duplicate Listing Sold in Diff. Categories both jumped from 13 to 40.
      • Missing Tax ID feel from 93 to 19.
      • First Photo Not Land Photo, Sign in Photo, Missing School, and Incorrect Status all fell below 15.

        Data Accuracy Department Statistics

        The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

        • Listings Reviewed: 22,733 (+3,296)
        • Notices Sent: 2,014 (-149)
        • Violation Notices Received: 460(+121)
        • Courtesy Notices Sent: 1,677 (-14)
        • Phone Calls Received: 589 (+10)

        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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

        Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

        Rules Roundup: Coming Soon-No Showing vs. Marketing of a Listing Prior to RMLS Publication (Feb. 2024)

        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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

        HIGHLIGHTS

        Coming Soon-No Showing (CSN) listings and Marketing of a Listing Prior to RMLS Publication requirements have some commonalities but are not the same.

        Rule 3.29 of the RMLS Rules and Regulations outlines what advertising is permitted for Coming Soon listings. Here’s a summary:

        • Coming Soon-No Showing status listings are displayed only in the MLS system and are not included in the MLS advertising data feeds.
        • The Listing Broker may place a “Coming Soon” sign and flyer at the property and it must include the words “Coming Soon.”
        • A property in Coming Soon-No Showing status shall not be advertised in any other manner or medium (no print ads, display on the internet, or on syndication websites, mobile apps, or social media).
        • A broker may share Coming Soon-No Showing listings with the broker’s clients, current customers, and active RMLS subscribers only.

        It’s important to note that the rules governing advertising CSN listings are distinct from those governing advertising prior to RMLS publication of a regular Active listing, a violation known as Marketing of a Listing prior to RMLS Publication. Basically, don’t market a listing that isn’t entered into the MLS. Violation of this rule can result in a fine of up to $1,500, to be determined by the RMLS Rules and Regulations Committee.

        An important aspect of both requirements is that social media advertising of listings that are not yet available to the public is not allowable. To do so is viewed as discriminatory advertising and undermines the inclusive and transparent nature of the market.

        FORMAL VIOLATIONS

        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 casees in February 2024.

        INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

        The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. This month we saw some significant changes for certain categories.

        • Duplicate Listings dropped from 63 to 13
        • Personal Promotion dropped from 166 to 128
        • People in Photo rose from 15 to 31

          Data Accuracy Department Statistics

          The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

          • Listings Reviewed: 19,437 (+4,310)
          • Notices Sent: 2,163 (-260)
          • Violation Notices Received: 339 (+69)
          • Courtesy Notices Sent: 1,691 (-39)
          • Phone Calls Received:  579 (+59)

          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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

          Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

          Rules Roundup: Canceled vs Withdrawn Statuses (Jan. 2024)

          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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

          HIGHLIGHTS

          Given our recent policy change regarding refreshing listings, it would be advantageous to review the distinctions between the Canceled and Withdrawn statuses, as well as when to employ each.

          According to the RMLS rules and regulations, these statuses are defined as follows:

          Cancelled (CAN): Listings may also be canceled prior to their expiration date. The Canceled status signifies that the listing contract has been cancelled and terminated. Obviously, if the CONTRACT with the seller has been canceled then you would not want to actively market or advertise the property. The date that you change the listing to Canceled gets recorded in the Expiration Date field and the listing will always appear as CAN from that point on.

          Withdrawn (WTH): If the owner requests it, and has signed the proper paperwork, you can withdraw a listing in the RMLS database. The contract between you and the seller is still in force, but the property will no longer be actively marketed or advertised. This could be a temporary condition and the listing can be returned to Active status later. Special note: A listing marked WTH will still expire once it hits midnight on the date specified in the Expiration Date field.

          There are some possible circumstances under which you would use these statuses and the situations that would guide you in choosing one status over the other:

          Withdrawn: The withdrawn status should be utilized in situations where the listing will not be actively marketed for a period (typically short-term) but will be reactivated, and marketing will resume. Examples of such circumstances include when the seller is out of town for the weekend; the seller is conducting minor repairs or yard work; or the seller will be unavailable for showings for a brief period. During these instances, you would designate the property as Withdrawn temporarily and then reactivate the listing as “back on the market.” Listings under the WTH status are still actively under contract and will accumulate Days on Market (DOM).

          Canceled: The canceled status is appropriate for situations where your current listing contract will be terminated. However, this does not necessarily mean that the seller is not interested in working with you in the future; rather, it indicates that the seller is not currently interested in marketing the home, often for a longer or indefinite period. This could be due to reasons such as needing to take a break, approaching holidays, or planning extensive repairs/upgrades.

          Whenever you are off the market and intend to relist with a new MLS number, the listing must be Canceled or Expired for at least 31 days. Withdrawn listings cannot be relisted with a new MLS number.

          FORMAL VIOLATIONS

          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 casees in January 2024.

          INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

          The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. This month we saw some significant changes for certain categories.

          • Missing School rose from 4 to 35
          • HUD dropped from 28 to 9
          • Missing Condo Unit Number dropped from 118 to 64
          • Duplicate Listing fell from 150 to 105
          • Missing Tax ID rose from 47 to 153

            Data Accuracy Department Statistics

            The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

            • Listings Reviewed: 15,127 (+3,839)
            • Notices Sent: 2,423 (-815)
            • Violation Notices Received: 270 (+43)
            • Courtesy Notices Sent: 1,730 (-933)
            • Phone Calls Received:  520 (+153)

            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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.

            Tips to Avoid Fair Housing Violations (Rules Roundup May 2024)

            Rules Roundup: New ‘Sold Other Category’ Status (Dec. 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 27 specific issues outlined in the RMLS Rules and Regulations, and is responsible for addressing subscriber questions and concerns regarding listing accuracy.

            HIGHLIGHTS

            With the expansive forms change project that was recently rolled out, a new status was also added. This new status comes with some useful features that will make listing a property in two categories much easier. The first thing to note is that when listing a property in two categories it will automatically be linked to its twin so that future updates on one property will automatically be applied to the other. There will also be a link to the other listing featured on both listings. Here is the description of the rule:

            • Sold Other Category (SOC). For properties that can be listed in multiple property categories (ex. Residential and Commercial), when it’s time to designate the property as “sold” in RMLS, the Seller’s Agent will mark one listing as Sold (SLD) and the system will mark the other listing as Sold Other Category (SOC). During initial data input of these two listings, the system will help the Seller’s Agent connect them together and as modifications are made to one listing (ex. price change, status change, etc.), then the system will apply that change to the second listing.

             This means that you will no longer need to cancel one of the listings after marking the other SOLD. This should significantly cut down the number of unwanted calls sellers receive once a listing is cancelled and drastically lower the number of duplicate listing violations. It will also more accurately represent the status of these listings.

            FORMAL VIOLATIONS

            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 casees in December 2023.

            INFORMAL VIOLATIONS

            The chart below shows violations that generated at least 15 instances in the past month. This month we saw some significant changes for certain categories.

            • Missing School rose from 4 to 35
            • HUD dropped from 28 to 9
            • Missing Condo Unit Number dropped from 118 to 64
            • Duplicate Listing fell from 150 to 105
            • Missing Tax ID rose from 47 to 153

              Data Accuracy Department Statistics

              The gain or loss comparison displayed in the parenthesis is versus the previous month.

              • Listings Reviewed: 11,288 (-5,851)
              • Notices Sent: 3,238 (+512)
              • Violation Notices Received: 227 (-141)
              • Courtesy Notices Sent: 2,663 (+923)
              • Phone Calls Received:  124 (+14)

              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 dataaccuracy@rmls.com or call them at 503.395.1916. When there are increases in specific violation types, we sometimes place notifications on RMLSweb.