Knock, Knock:  E-Keys and Unauthorized Access

March 8, 2024    •    2 min read

In the world of real estate, ensuring the safety and security of homes during the selling process is of paramount importance. One of the key challenges facing Ohio Realtors is the potential risk of unauthorized access to properties on the market.

Unauthorized access occurs when an agent grants access to a property without the seller’s consent.  This practice can lead to significant legal and ethical consequences for the real estate agent and their broker. Common scenarios include allowing a potential buyer to enter the property or providing access to third parties, such as inspectors, without the agent present or without the seller’s consent.  Granting unauthorized access to a home violates Sections 1-16 and 3-9 of the Realtor Code of Ethics Standards of Practice and is one of the leading violations presented to the Ohio Division of Real Estate.

However, this does not mean that an agent must be present every time the property is visited.  Realtors must simply obtain written consent by the seller granting the third party access to the property without the agent present.  Services offered through STAR and the MLS, such as Supra, make scheduling showings and inspections simple and even offer the ability to access the proprety remotely.  This allows a third party, such as a contractor, appraiser, or inspector, access to the property without the agent being present provided the Seller has given their written consent

Below are a few tips for agents to utilize these services while remaining in compliance with ethics requirements:

  • Always set appointments to enter the property for any reason in writing or reproducable form.  When the appointment is set, authorization for access without the agent present can be given by the Seller;
  • NEVER provide a lockbox code to a third party unless the seller has given prior consent;
  • Consider including written consent for access to the property in the listing agreement or purchase agreement;
  • With prior authorization, utilize services provided by the Association and MLS to securily grant access to the property.

Jamie M. Haren at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs assists brokers and agents with all types of real estate matters.  Contact her at 330.491.5226 or [email protected]

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Jamie Haren

Partner | Canton

[email protected] 330-491-5226


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