By Michele McCaskill
VP, Risk Management and Assistant General Counsel
Trespassing, in general, can be defined as the intentional intrusion into or upon the private property of another person without his or her consent. Canopy MLS has received numerous complaints of Realtors® found walking around the outside of homes listed in the MLS without having an appointment or outside of their appointment time. If you do not have a confirmed appointment to view a property, it likely also means you DO NOT have the right to enter onto that property to walk around the outside of the home or to peer into windows/doors. Unless the seller or listing agent has given you express permission to explore the outside of the listing, staying off of the property surrounding that listing is essential.
Section 3 of the Canopy MLS Rules and Regulations require agents to make an appointment prior to showing a property. In addition, Article 3 of the Code of Ethics (“COE”), as illustrated in Standard of Practice 3-9, precludes Realtors® from providing access to a listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or listing broker. Failure to make an appointment or to attempt to access a property outside of your appointed time, is a Category III violation that will result in a $500 fine. In addition, you could be found in violation of Article 3 of the COE by a panel of the Professional Standards Committee after a formal Ethics Hearing on the matter.
Also important to note is that in North Carolina, entering onto the private property of another without permission, can be regarded as trespassing which is considered a misdemeanor punishable by fines, community service or incarceration. The law is different in South Carolina, however, and a warning or “notice” not to enter onto the property of another is required before an individual can be charged.
Do not attempt to enter into or upon a listed property without an appointment and do not attempt to view, even the outside of the home, prior to the time the seller has provided such authorization. If you do, you could be subject to Canopy MLS fines or a Code of Ethics sanction and in some cases, a trespassing charge, if the seller or listing broker opts to press charges against you.