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Legally speaking: Going on vacation? The right way to appoint another agent to cover for you

By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration

The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work within the law, our “Legally Speaking” series spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one examines the issue of appointing another agent to represent your clients when you are out of town or not available… 

Q: Another agent in our brokerage has agreed to cover for me next week while I’m on vacation. Besides notifying my client, is there anything else I should do?

A: Often situations arise when agents need someone else to fill in for them during an absence. As in your case, this may occur when you are on vacation, but it could also happen when you have a family matter to attend to or are ill. In such situations, in order to be able to provide agency-level service to your clients while you are gone, it’s best that the agent who has agreed to cover for you actually be appointed to represent your clients. The term of the appointment could be for a short time (i.e. just to cover your vacation) or for the remaining term of the agency agreement (for example if you have surgery or have a long term illness).

Under Ohio law there are two ways an appointment of an agent can be handled. Clients can either authorize their agent to make appointments on their behalf pursuant to a written agreement (i.e., language in their listing or buyer agency agreement), or the client can authorize another agent to be appointed to represent them when the need arises.

The first option can be used where the brokerage has had a client delegate the authority to appoint other agents within the brokerage to represent them to their agent. Ohio law requires that this delegation of authority be in writing, be signed by the client and include language notifying the client of his right to veto any appointment. Usually this type of language authorizing the agent to make appointments is included in the listing or buyer agency agreement. Below is sample appointment language that can be included in a listing or buyer agency agreement:

Appointment of Licensees. Seller/Buyer agrees to delegate to listing agent/buyer agent the authority to appoint other licensees within the brokerage to represent Seller’s/Buyer’s interest. If an appointment is made, Seller/Buyer will be notified at the time of the appointment. Seller/Buyer has the right to veto the appointment of any other licensee.

If an appointment of another agent is made pursuant to such a provision, Ohio law requires that the client be notified at the time of the appointment. Although the law does not require this notification to be made in writing, by doing so the agent has evidence that the notification was given. Click here for sample “Notification of Appointment of Agent” forms for seller or buyer clients.

If authority to make such an appointment is not delegated to the agent in writing, the client must specifically authorize another agent being appointed to represent him. The license law does not require the appointment to be in writing but it does require the client’s “specific” consent to the appointment. Therefore, it is recommended that agents obtain their client’s written consent to the appointment, rather than rely on a verbal agreement. Again, this appointment could be for a specific term or for the remainder of your listing or buyer agency agreement. For a sample “Appointment of Agent” form click here.

For Q&A on appointing agents click here.

Tags: legal, Legally Speaking