Do Real Estate Agents Need a Police Check Online?
Real estate is an industry that can benefit from carrying out national police checks, as it involves several parties; the buyer, the seller and the agent.
A national police check is a certified way to get an insight into the individual you are dealing with. Real estate firms hire agents to manage many jobs within the property sector, including giving viewings, and meeting with members of the community who become involved in the property market.
Agents are in a position of trust, building relationships with clients and accessing a number of properties unsupervised. They may gather financial information and personal documents from clients during the process. For this reason, a criminal background check is essential to prevent untrustworthy individuals from working as estate agents in Australia.
The police check does not assert that an individual will never commit an offence, but it does offer an insight into their background and character.
What is the Role of a Police Check in Real Estate?
The certificate crafted from the results of a police check includes information sourced from Police History Information records. It contains the details of releasable offences if the applicant has any. These are called Disclosable Court Outcomes.
The Australian police check has an important role to play in lots of industries. The overall result is that it clears individuals for employment in positions of trust. It also safeguards the groups involved with a specific role, like fellow employees, the employer and the local community.
In real estate, the above applies. Whether you’re an agent, buyer or seller, an element of trust and transparency must be established between all relevant parties. A police check is the tool used to support this, offering an insight into the characters behind the deal.
What Does Real Estate Entail?
Real estate is real property, and relates to buildings and the land that they occupy or surround. A real estate agent is the person that uses their skills and expert knowledge to find property, market property, and arrange the selling and/or renting of properties.
Real estate agents work closely with buyers and sellers, coordinate open houses, property viewings, interview buyers and more.
Because of their close involvement with people within the community, their role is considered a position of trust.
Do Real Estate Agents Need a Police Check Online?
Real estate agents as with many other industry professionals do require police clearance. The Australian police check is a formal background search on a consenting individual. It will reveal important information about the agent’s past, and ensure that they are qualified and eligible to work in real estate.
Most estate agencies will undergo regular police checks on their employees to protect the agency, its credentials and promote transparency to customers, both buyers and sellers. Many people attend property viewings alone, and it is crucial that they are in the company of trustworthy professionals.
Completing a police check online reduces the chances of dangerous individuals finding work with real estate agencies. It also aims to prevent criminal activity such as fraud and money laundering.
How Can a Real Estate Agent Obtain a Police Check?
As with any other profession, a real estate agent can obtain a police check by using an ACIC accredited provider. Many of these providers have websites which allow applicants to submit a police check online. Crime Check Australia is one such provider, with a simple digital application form.
The provider can be accessed from anywhere with internet access. It should be completed privately to mitigate the risk of others viewing your personal information. Identity theft is an extremely common occurrence within Australia, and you should always take reasonable precautions.
When there are no issues, the applicant will receive an electronic copy of their national police certificate. Otherwise a hard copy can be requested and will arrive by mail. The certificate is then proof of a police check, and is the document shown to requesting parties.
The other option to obtain a police check is to go down to local police services in-person. Your identity will be verified by physically matching your appearance to identification documents. These manual methods are not as convenient as a police check online, and will generally require more time to complete the procedure.
How Long Does a Police Check Online Take?
The police check online itself doesn’t take long at all. The average time to complete the digital form is 5 minutes, unless time is taken to gather the correct ID documents.
Researching the process will give you a headstart, and allow you to gather and check your documents before beginning the application. It shouldn’t be rushed, and you should spend a little extra time reading through the details and information that you’ve entered.
In terms of results, a police check is returned within 1 business day on average. This quick turnaround is not definite, and there is always a small chance that your application will take longer.
If the results are delayed because of an error with your application, you will be informed and advice will be given as to how to handle the situation going forward.
What is the Process for a Police Check Online?
The online system for national police checks has been designed as a more efficient method to apply for one when needed. With Crime Check Australia and most other certified providers, the police check online has a standard process.
Here is what you can expect when completing a digital police check.
- Complete the fields (names, previous names, date of birth)
- Add the purpose for the check
- Pay the costs
- Add information from the required documents like passport and driver’s licence
- Take a selfie following the instructions
- Hit the submit button
What Information is Required for a Police Check Online?
Real estate agents must provide the same information as any other applicant during the application procedures. The online police check system is easy to use and simply requires some personal information.
Every applicant has to add all names, residential addresses for the past 5 years, date of birth and 4 forms of identification documents. There’s also the requirement of the selfie for identity verification support.
How Long is a Police Check Valid in Real Estate?
The certificate is a point in time check, meaning there is no concrete expiry date. As with any industry that uses police clearance to screen employees, the time period considered suitable is determined by the organisation.
Often police checks which are over 3 months old are considered unacceptable, but this varies between industries. It is probable that an estate agency will only accept a certificate less than 3 months old, but this varies again between the different agencies.
Each company has its own risk strategy. State legislation does not determine how long a police check is valid, and this is solely determined by the individual estate agency.
As the point in time check doesn’t recognise police dealings which succeeded the issue date, many agencies will expect updated checks from estate agents.
What Will a Police Check Disclose?
A police check discloses information about your police history, such as any convictions you have and the details of the convictions. Information like this is referred to as Disclosable Court Outcomes. Any details are contained in the national police certificate.
Your police history is taken from the national police database after scanning the system for a match to your name. Authorities will verify the match is correct, and assess the information on the record.
Disclosable Court Outcomes can include convictions, court orders, pending charges and findings of guilt without conviction.
Authorities may decide to leave out some information from the document after careful consideration. For instance, if the offence is irrelevant to the purpose of the check.
The spent legislation scheme is used to further assess which information will be disclosed. A spent conviction will be excluded from the document in most cases. However, spent convictions will usually be disclosed if the police check is going to be used to take a job working with children, for example.
Alternatively it will disclose that you do not have any criminal offences on file. The criminal record check will return a No Disclosable Court Outcomes result.
Will Certain Convictions Prevent an Individual From Working in Real Estate?
Throughout different professions there are certain convictions on file that have the potential to prohibit an individual from working in that sector. Different state legislation applies but the most serious convictions are fairly standard across the board and will never reach spent status.
Specific convictions of a serious nature will always be disclosed in a national police check. This includes sexually related convictions and convictions against corporate companies and institutions.
The purpose or occupation behind the individual obtaining national police clearance is a substantial factor in the information released in the certificate. Companies and organisations are then able to make informed choices as to who they hire, without being discriminatory.
There is no automatic ban on individuals within the real estate sector, but estate agencies will review candidates to make sure they will not put clients or others at risk. Generally, an individual will be unable to obtain work as a real estate agent if they have serious convictions held on police records.
Who Else Needs a Police Check in Real Estate?
The employee of the real estate firm i.e. the real estate agent is not the only party that requires a police check. Many firms will request an updated check from partners, buyers, sellers and tenants.
The certificate is a certified document which gives assurance to the other parties that an individual can be trusted, and trust is highly important in real estate transactions or any other form of deal brokering.
In some cases, real estate companies might refuse services to individuals recently convicted of certain crimes. This makes the Australian police check crucial in revealing important information which could have an impact on a property deal.
Convictions such as sexual abuse, murder, damage to property and arson are some examples of offences which may deny certain people a real estate deal or access to their services.
What if a Real Estate Agent Fails the Police Check?
If the police check online is returned with Disclosable Court Outcomes, the real estate firm must use their own risk assessment to judge whether the individual is still eligible for the role. Every company interprets a police check result differently, and must refrain from discriminatory behaviour when making their decision.
Overall, the most important thing is that a person seeking to work as a real estate agent is screened appropriately and given a fair chance when applying for work. The police chec ensures the right treatment of individuals while restoring safety in the Australian community.
For many entering the property world, the estate agent is their first contact. This relationship immediately demands transparency and a level of trust so that informed choices may be made throughout the real estate proceedings.