Create a Personal Safety Plan That Also Avoids Legal Liability

One-third of real estate professionals have felt unsafe during an open house or showing, according to the 2020 National Association of REALTORS® Member Safety Report. Safety remains a priority among real estate professionals and their brokerages.

Having a personal safety plan can help. This plan can address common scenarios that you may risk while working in real estate, such as when meeting new clients or showing properties.

However, be sure to factor in legal considerations when creating a safety plan, such as those that help you avoid potential fair housing pitfalls and that reflect any state and local regulations. The National Association of REALTORS®’ latest “Window to the Law: Safety Best Practices for Real Estate Professionals” video from its legal team highlights tips on creating a safety plan.

In the video, Deanne Rymarowicz, associate counsel at NAR, cites one example of using self-defense sprays, such as mace or pepper spray, and being aware of the regulations, which can vary widely from state to state. For example, Hawaii requires a license for pepper spray and limits the container size to a half ounce. Wisconsin limits the active ingredient in pepper spray to a 10% concentration and a two-ounce container.

Also, beware of potential legal issues that could arise from using technology tools and smartphone apps to confirm a stranger’s identity or to conduct background checks. “An instant background check cannot be used for any discriminatory purpose or to make decisions about credit, tenant screening, or for any other purpose that would require compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” Rymarowicz notes in the video.

Be sure to consistently apply safety protocols in your client interactions to avoid legal liability.

Watch the Window to the Law video for more tips.

Learn more about the REALTOR® Safety Program and access resources at