Steven  Maislin

Steven Maislin

Broker, Certified Specialist IRES, ABR, SRS, SRES, RENE

RE/MAX Realtron Realty Inc., Brokerage*

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Best Practices: Using Lock Boxes – What Brokers Need to Know

Lock boxes have become an integral part of the real estate industry, providing a safe way for REALTORS® to access the home, which is critical for the sale of the Listing. However, as a TREB Member, you must familiarize yourself with your compliance obligations and protect the security of your client when using lock boxes.

If you are representing a client in a real estate transaction, it is important to engage in Best Practices when using a lock box. Whether you are listing the property and chose to use a lock box, or you are a Salesperson using a lock box to show a Listing to potential buyers, you must:

  • Remember to be safe and conscientious
  • Follow the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics
  • Follow TREB's MLS® Rules and Policies

Read on to learn more about what your obligations are as a REALTOR® when using a lock box. Plus, you will gain an in-depth description of what sections of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics and TREB's MLS® Rules and Policies pertain to lock box use.


To ensure you follow Best Practices, you will have to protect your client by being mindful of their safety and ensuring you are conscientious.

Remember Safety:

  • Confirm that the person asking for access is a Member
  • Remember to check the security of the lock box on a regular basis
  • Change the manufacturer's default code and update your code on a regular basis (e.g., weekly)
  • Never write the code on a Listing or a business card
  • Do not use a code that is obvious, such as 1-2-3-4 or the house number
  • Label or affix the Member's identity on the lock box (e.g., with a ribbon or business card)
  • Never label a lock box with a condominium suite number, but do have some way to indicate which lock box the key belongs to, e.g., number of building and reverse number of suites
  • Members who access a lock box are responsible for ensuring that it is secure and the code is cleared prior to departing the property

Be Conscientious:

  • The lock box code should be confirmed through the Co-operating Brokerage and not to the cell phone of the Co-operating Salesperson making the appointment
  • Do not disclose a lock box code to any other person without the Seller's consent
  • You may require permission from condominium management to place the lock box on a common element
  • Call the Listing Brokerage to report any problems with keys or lock boxes
  • Do not tamper or interfere with the lock box of another Member
  • Remember to remove the lock box prior to closing

TIP: Suggested tools with the use of a lock box include a flashlight and a de-icer.

What are the Consequences of Misusing a Lock box?
As a real estate professional, you must abide by the rules that are set in place for lock box use. Misuse of a lock box could lead you to an infraction under RECO or TREB. This area of Best Practices will cover what sections of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics and TREB's MLS® Rules and Policies you will need to follow.

Misuse of a lock box could lead you to an infraction under RECO. Sections 3, 4, 5 and 39 of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics stipulates fairness and honesty, the best interests of a client, providing conscientious and competent service, and unprofessional conduct. As a REALTOR®, you must abide by these sections, especially when using lock boxes. For more detail on the relevant sections under RECO's Code of Ethics that coincide with lock box use, click here.

A complaint can be filed to RECO if an infraction of the above sections was found. There are several outcomes that can arise after a complaint has been filed. For more information about RECO's complaint process and possible outcomes, click here.

You must also abide by TREB's MLS® Rules and Policies when you are using a lock box. A complaint may be filed against you to TREB's Professional Standards department if a violation of an MLS® Rule occurs. The MLS® Rules that pertain to lock boxes are:

  • R-540
    Subject to the terms of the MLS® Listing Agreement, Members shall not use lock boxes or keys to access any property without first obtaining permission from the Listing Brokerage to access the property on each occasion.
  • R-545
    A Member shall not interfere or tamper with a lock box of another Member.
  • R-550
    A Member who is in receipt of a lock box combination shall not disclose the combination to any other person without the consent of the Seller.
  • R-551
    Keys shall be re-deposited in a lock box immediately upon exiting the property and the lock box shall be properly secured.
  • R-555
    A Member conducting a showing or inspection is solely responsible to ensure that all security precautions are taken prior to departing the property.

(click here to read the rest of TREB's MLS® Rules and Policies)

The violation of the above rules can lead the Professional Standards Roster to issue a Special Administrative Fee, a Reprimand, or have the complaint proceed to a Professional Standards Hearing. If you would like more information about TREB's Professional Standards process, click here.


If you are interested in other Best Practice topics, access TREB's handy Best Practices document by clicking here.

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