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Who is Responsible for the Actions of Non-Licensed Staff in Your Real Estate Office?

Your real estate office likely has a number of independent contractors working under your brokerage. An independent contractor may have non-licensed assistants helping with answering phones, marketing efforts, or other office activities.

What activities can a non-licensed assistant perform?

In general, a non-licensed assistant can’t perform any activities for which a real estate license is required. Compensation for non-licensed staff can’t be transaction-based, they must be full or part-time salaried or hourly employees.

In most states, non-licensed assistants can handle:


  • Answer phones, take messages, forward calls
  • Answer questions about what types of services the licensee provides
  • Schedule appointments
  • Handle personnel files
  • Bookkeeping
  • Order routine repairs
  • Call about late rent
  • Accept trust funds, security deposit, or earnest money from a client or tenant
  • Assemble documents for a closing or listing package
  • Obtain publicly available information from a courthouse, sewer district, water district


  • Mail, deliver, or pickup documents or keys, get signatures – but cannot discuss the documents
  • Have keys made
  • Give access to a home by inspector, appraiser, contractor – but cannot give any information


  • Assist in emailing or calling potential prospects – but only to ask if the person is interested in real estate services
  • Create and design ads and place them
  • Prepare and distribute flyers
  • Post on social media
  • Place Open House signs
  • Submit listings and changes to MLS
  • Prepare comparative market analysis


  • Greet visitors and handle sign-in
  • Schedule appointments
  • Provide factual information about a house from preprinted materials

Be sure to check with your state real estate department for specifics in your state.

What duties are specifically off limits?

Non-licensed assistants cannot:

  • Solicit a listing, property management, or a rental/lease
  • Show properties
  • Host open houses
  • Discuss or explain any document
  • Interpret any document or information
  • Give any property information to an inspector, appraiser, or contractor
  • Prepare and submit ads and promotional materials without a licensee’s approval
  • Prepare property or market analysis without a licensee’s supervision

So who is responsible if a non-licensed assistant does something that causes a claim or lawsuit?

Company Errors and Omissions Insurance

Your real estate company’s Errors and Omissions insurance might not cover activities of non-licensed assistants – unless that coverage is specifically included.

For example, CRES company real estate E&O policies cover:

  • Stockholders, partners, officers, directors, employees
  • Former employees, directors, officers
  • Franchisor
  • Independent contractors – and any unlicensed employees of a licensed independent contractor

This “Team/UnLicensed” coverage is standard with CRES company E&O.

What is Team Coverage and What Does it Cover?

Team Coverage covers mistakes made by the brokerage’s team in the process of conducting business. 

The company E&O policy with Team Coverage is designed to cover costs of defending your business if legal action is taken. The policy can also cover settlements or judgments that may be issued against your team. 

CRES was one of the first to offer Team coverage – and uniquely includes coverage for Unlicensed Assistants. Many insurance carriers do not have this coverage as part of their standard company E&O policy. This means you could be at risk of having a claim denied if your policy doesn’t include coverage for the actions of unlicensed assistants.

Protecting Your Business with Team Coverage

With real estate teams on the rise, you can be sure your team and your business is protected with CRES. All CRES Real Estate E&O + ClaimPrevent policies include expert Pre-Claim Legal Advisory Services. So, you can get answers to all your legal questions before they become insurance claims. 

As part of one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, we have unequalled access to more E&O options than just about anyone else. Let us do the shopping for you – and find you the best company E&O coverage at the best price.

Contact CRES today at 800.880.2747 to speak with one our insurance professionals about your team’s insurance needs. 

When your independent contractors have unlicensed employees, you need CRES real estate company E&O with team/unlicensed coverage.

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