Notes From the Legal Hotline: April 2022

April 1, 2022

- By The MAR Legal Team

Q: There has been a lot of discussion about website accessibility lately. Is there anything that I need to do?

A: Over the last several years there have been a few notable cases across the country addressing the issue of website accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but the Department of Justice (DOJ) was slow to provide specific guidance or regulation on this topic. On March 18, 2022, the DOJ published new guidance on website accessibility, offering some much-needed clarity in this arena. As the DOJ did not provide a regulation with detailed standards for accessibility, businesses will continue to have some flexibility in how they comply with the ADA requirements.

REALTORS® operating a website for their businesses should work with their website vendors to conduct an accessibility audit of their sites and develop a plan for any identified deficiencies. In the continued absence of specific regulation, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is an excellent tool to assist in achieving accessibility on the web.

Some of the most common accessibility failures found on websites are:

  • Poor color contrast
  • Missing “alt text” for images
  • No captioning for videos
  • Mouse-only navigation

Q: What happens if my relationship changes with a person after the first personal meeting?

A: It depends on how the Mandatory Massachusetts Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure was completed at the first personal meeting. If the disclosure was completed as a facilitator, the relationship may be modified to Buyer’s or Seller’s Agent; however, the converse is not possible. Once a licensee has entered into an agency relationship with a buyer or seller, they may not later become a facilitator in the course of the same transaction.

If a licensee and a client part ways after entering into an agency relationship, that terminates the agency relationship and most of the fiduciary duties thereunder. Regardless, the fiduciary duties of confidentiality and proper accounting of funds remain indefinitely.