How Violations Work in the MLS: Reporting, Citing, Resolving

Previously on the blog, we discussed the rationale behind MLS Compliance, and the importance of citing violations of the MLS Rules & Regulations.

Now that we understand where the rules come from and why they must be enforced, it’s time to take a look at the process of identifying a violation, issuing a citation, and resolving that citation.

 

Where do violations come from?

CRMLS is a self-policing community. That means that most of the violations that come through our Compliance Department are reported by subscribers. There is simply no way that our staff could sift through the 100,000+ active listings each day and come close to finding all the violations. The integrity of our MLS data relies on the participation of our agents and brokers.

How do I report a violation?

If you come across a listing that deviates from the standards specified in the Rules & Regulations, reporting a violation is easy:

  • Identify the violation.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the listing and click the link:

Report Violation copy

  • In the “Notes” section, describe the violation.
  • Click “Add Violation”

Violation reporting is anonymous. While CRMLS staff will be able to see who submitted the claim, the listing agent in violation will never know who reported them.

 

What happens next?

As soon as you click “Add Violation,” the violation is submitted to the CRMLS Compliance Department. Due to the high volume of violations within the system, it normally takes 2-3 business days for Compliance to process.

The Compliance Department receives about 100 member-reported violations every day.

 

How does the violation turn into a citation?

When your submission reaches the front of the queue, it is investigated by one of our Compliance Analysts.

The analyst reads the note from your submission, then examines the listing in question to determine if, in fact, a rule has been violated, and which specific rule that is. Any evidence associated with the violation, i.e., relevant photos, text, or links are then saved to the case for future reference.

If the analyst concludes that a violation has occurred, the listing agent is then notified via email. That email will include the specific rule number that has been violated, a description of the violation, and instructions on how to proceed with clearing the violation.

Accurately identifying the violated rule is imperative, as all violations are tiered levels 1, 2, or 3, and each tier warrants different punitive action.

 

The Citation Tier System

In general, penalties become harsher the more violations are associated with your account. Your violation count with CRMLS is reset annually. The penalties for each Tier are as follows:

 

Tier 1 Violations

  • Warning letter with no associated fine for first 2 offences.
  • Citation with $100 fine for 3rd
  • Citation with $300 fine for every offence after the 3rd.
    • Tier 1 Example: Failure to Provide Complete Listing Information [Rule 7.14 (Detail on Listings)]

Tier 2 Violations

  • Warning letter with no associated fine for first 2 offences.
  • Citation with $250 fine for 3rd
  • Citation with $500 fine for every offence after the 3rd.
    • Tier 2 Example: Failure to Correct Incomplete or Inaccurate Information after MLS Notification [Rule 8.3 (Accuracy & Correction)]

Tier 3 Violations

  • NO WARNINGS
  • Citation with $1,000 fine for 1st
  • Citation with $2,500 fine for every offence after the 1st.
    • Tier 3 Example: Failure to Obtain Seller’s Authority to List in MLS [Rule 8.1 (Listing Agreement and Seller’s Permission)]

*For the full list of violations by tier see our MLS Citation Policy.

 

What do I do with my citation?

If you receive a citation notice via email, READ IT CAREFULLY! It will explain what action is required on your part. As you can see above, some citations will just be warnings, but others will require that you either pay the associated fine OR challenge the citation within a certain amount of time.

It is not infrequent that we will meet frustrated agents in the CRMLS office demanding that their fines be lowered several months after their citation was issued. Resolution of violations within the MLS system IS TIME SENSITIVE! Our goal is to keep our listing data as accurate and up-to-date as possible, and that’s why many citation fees compound over time if they are not corrected.

So, again, PLEASE READ YOUR CITATION IN FULL. But just in case, here’s how it works, in 3 simple steps:

  • You receive a citation with an associated fine.
  • You have 15 business days to either pay the fine OR challenge the citation.

***PLEASE NOTE: Your right to challenge is WAIVED after 15 business days.***

  • If you did not challenge the citation and you do not pay the fine by 21 calendar days after the citation was issued, your Matrix account will be suspended (it will be reactivated upon receipt of payment).

For a more detailed explanation of how to pay your fine or challenge your citation, CLICK HERE!

 

How do I keep track of my violations?

Whether you are looking to track your own violations or violations you reported, CRMLS Matrix keeps an updated list for you, and if you’re a broker, for your entire office.

You can find these lists here, under “External Links” on your Matrix Dashboard:

External Links - Violations

OR

Here, under the “Links” tab by scrolling down to “Data Integrity Links”:

Tab bar copy

 

In conclusion…

Citing violations of the MLS Rules & Regulations is a necessary evil, but now you know how it works, and next time you’ll know what to do! Remember, our goal here at CRMLS is to help you serve your clients the best you can. We want to help you avoid violations altogether, but we know life happens. That’s why we don’t fine you for your first two Tier 1 or 2 violations. But we have to draw the line somewhere.

So next time you find a citation notice in your inbox, DON’T DELAY! The best thing you can do for you, your business, and your fellow agents and brokers is to open it up, read it carefully, and nip it right in the bud!

3 comments

  • How do we know if a jealous competing realtor is reporting frivolous violations just for their sick mindset? Do you keep a record if an enormous amount of violations are being reported against one honest mls rules abiding realtor by someone else?
    Thanks

    • Hi Jeff! Regarding your comment: Every Subscriber may request a review hearing by a Grievance Committee and then a Professional Standards Panel for any Citation that they feel is erroneous. While we process thousands of reported violations each month, we are unaware of the factual situation described above. We have Compliance Analysts that examine each reported violation for legitimacy, and about 20% to 25% of the reported violations do not result in any citation being issued.

  • Will listing agent be given the opportunity to correct the mistake (say 24 hours) before a citation is issued. Sometimes it is just a human error or genuine oversight. The Tier system weighs heavier on agents that list hundreds of properties a year (more potential for mistakes) than agents that list one or 2 per year. Giving everyone a 24 hour opportunity to correct the mistake (or violation) would even the paying field making it fair for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *