The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) licenses real estate professionals and ensures that they follow the TREC rules and Texas laws that pertain to them. Exhibiting the qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity are all essential to obtaining a license from TREC. Therefore, you may have difficulty getting a license from TREC if you have a criminal record, prior disciplinary history with other professional or occupational licenses, unpaid judgments, or unlicensed activity. Fortunately, you can determine your eligibility for a license before going through the entire licensing process. A real estate license defense lawyer can assist you and represent your interests before TREC.
Understanding Fitness Determinations
A Fitness Determination (FD) from TREC allows you to get a preliminary determination of your eligibility for a license through TREC. This process saves you from going through all the steps to become licensed and discovering that you are ineligible for a license. Although getting an FD is optional, it can keep you from spending unnecessary time and money taking educational courses, paying for an application, and taking the licensing exam.
An FD is available for all the types of licenses that TREC issues. These licenses include real estate brokers, real estate sales agents, professional inspectors, real estate inspectors, apprentice inspectors, and easement or right-of-way agents.
The Fitness Determination Process
You must submit a Fitness Determination (FD) form online, along with any required documentation and a $52 nonrefundable fee, to TREC before you apply for a license. Once you have applied for your license, it is too late to request an FD. Ideally, you should submit your FD request before completing any qualifying education courses.
Concerning your criminal history, you should disclose everything on the FD form and enclose your court documents. TREC’s FD is based only on the information you provide with your FD form; it is not a full criminal background check. Therefore, you must disclose all criminal offenses, no matter how old they may be, even if they were dismissed or if you were placed on parole, probation, and community supervision or deferred adjudication. Even if you receive a favorable FD, you must undergo a full background check based on your fingerprints. You could still be ineligible for licensure if you fail to disclose some of your criminal history in your FD request.
After TREC receives all supporting documentation, you will receive an FD from TREC within 30 days. The exact timeframe will depend on whether you submit the supporting documentation with your initial FD form or in response to a subsequent request from TREC.
TREC Licensure and Criminal Offenses
TREC can deny a license if you have a criminal offense in your history that directly relates to your profession under Chapter 53 of the Texas Occupations Code. For example, TREC Rule §541.1(a) lists various criminal offenses that directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of real estate brokers and sales agents. These offenses qualify as directly related to these professions because committing them demonstrates a person’s inability to represent the interest of another with honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. Some offenses include fraud and misrepresentation, forgery, falsification of records, perjury, offenses against the person, and offenses involving moral turpitude.
Likewise, TREC Rule §541.1(b) lists criminal offenses that directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of professional inspectors, real estate inspectors, apprentice inspectors, and easement or right-of-way agents. These offenses are very similar to those that relate to real estate brokers and sales agents.
A criminal background does not automatically disqualify an individual from licensure through TREC. Although a certain offense may prevent the person from getting a license initially, it does not operate as an absolute bar to that person getting a license in the future. TREC must consider the following factors under Tex. Occ. Code §53.023 in determining whether an individual’s criminal background should disqualify them from licensure, which includes:
- the extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;
- the age of the person when the crime was committed;
- the amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last criminal activity;
- the conduct and work activity of the person before and after the criminal activity;
- evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or after release;
- evidence of the person’s compliance with any conditions of community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision; and
- other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation.
Click to contact our professional license defense lawyers today
Criminal Offenses After Licensure
When an individual who already holds a license through TREC is convicted of a crime, the standard is different than for an initial license holder. Under these circumstances, TREC can only consider felonies and any offense involving fraud and will evaluate criminal activity considering the abovementioned factors. Furthermore, TREC will consider whether the license holder notified it within 30 days of the final conviction or the entry of a guilty or nolo contendre plea to the felony or offense involving fraud. Failure to timely report this information can lead to additional disciplinary action and penalties.
Complete a Case Evaluation form now
We Will Represent Your Interests Before TREC
The experienced real estate license defense lawyers at Bertolino LLP, will defend you against any TREC disciplinary proceedings that you may be facing. We will investigate the complaint and allegations against you, evaluate the evidence, present your options, and devise the best defense strategy for your case. Together, we will work to clear your name and protect your real estate license. Call us at (512) 515-9518 or contact us online.