Business practices have changed during the coronavirus pandemic. What was normal last year may pose health risks now. What should you do if someone involved in your transaction does not follow the recommended protocol?
Before you meet, know the recommended guidelines.
- Texas REALTORS® suggests all brokerages follow the state’s minimum standard health protocols: texasrealestate.com/coronavirus
- The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends maintaining social distancing and avoiding groups larger than 10, among other actions: dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/opentexas.aspx
- Gov. Greg Abbott has issued several coronavirus executive orders, such as requiring masks in many situations. Law enforcement can warn first-time violators and fine repeat offenders: gov.texas.gov/coronavirus-executive-orders
- Check for any city and county-specific orders as well. These may not be enforceable.
Communicating with clients or associated business professionals beforehand can help set expectations for the appointment and establish how to meet everyone’s needs under current conditions. Go over the guidelines and agree on protocol for any in-person business. Discuss virtual options and alternatives.
When you meet, be mindful of your safety. Pay attention to social distancing. If someone is not following guidelines, ask that person to follow the recommended steps. If at any point you feel unsafe, cancel the meeting and reschedule. You can also make different arrangements that do not require physical interaction.
After you meet, consider your options if you felt your safety was put at risk.
- If the offending party is another REALTOR®, you can contact that member’s brokerage. Texas REALTORS® offers an ombudsman program to help resolve disputes. You can file an ethics complaint if these strategies don’t work.
- If the offending party is a client, consider terminating your representation agreement with the client if you cannot come to an agreement about what happened and how to move forward. Make sure to treat all parties fairly and apply the same standards uniformly so you do not violate fair housing laws.
- If the offending party is another professional, you can contact that person’s supervisor. If that doesn’t work, another avenue may be submitting a complaint with their professional organization or licensing body. You could also choose to not do business with them in the future.
Taking careful actions before, during, and after interactions can help you protect yourself and your family, while also ensuring the health and safety of your clients, customers, and fellow Texans.