Background Check Requirement Added to Real Estate Licensure Applications
November 22, 2019 |
Applicants for a real estate salesperson or broker’s license must now complete a background check as part of the application process. The requirement also extends to those “upgrading” their licenses (i.e. from salesperson to broker) and applicants for an appraisal registration, license or certification, but does not include those licensees transferring, renewing or activating their licenses. The background check requirement includes a review of both state and federal criminal records.
The Division has advised that applicants must have fingerprints taken by a civilian background check program called WebCheck, which captures and electronically submits the applicant’s fingerprints to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The applicant has 10 days after submitting their application to the Division to have their fingerprints taken and must pay all the fees associated with the criminal records check. To facilitate the process, the Division provides applicants to links for information on WebCheck locations statewide along with instructions for having the results submitted to the Division.
Applicants are permitted to obtain a copy of their FBI records by submitting a fee, fingerprint card, and other information to the FBI at an address in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Upon review, if an applicant believes that their record is inaccurate or incomplete, the applicant can submit a challenge to the FBI. Applicants seeking to challenge incorrect information on their Ohio criminal record can submit a written request to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, Identification Division.
The requirement for applicants to undergo criminal background checks was added to the State’s 2019-2020 budget, with implementation beginning November 1, 2019. If an applicant does not disclose any convictions on their application, they can continue to proceed through the application process while the background check results are pending. If the applicant passes the licensure examination while the results remain pending, the Division will issue the applicant a provisional license until the results are received. If an applicant discloses a criminal conviction on their application, then the Division will hold the applicant’s application until the criminal records check has been received. Once received, the Superintendent will decide on whether to permit the applicant to proceed through the application process or deny the application. If the application is denied, the applicant can appeal the Superintendent’s decision to the Ohio Real Estate Commission.
To avoid a circumstance where applicants with criminal histories take the pre-licensure courses only to later have their application denied due to a criminal conviction, the law requires students to be provided certain disclosures from course providers. Namely that a criminal conviction can disqualify an applicant from obtaining a real estate license and that a student can obtain an advance decision on whether a conviction is disqualifying.
For more information, the Division has added several pages of instruction to each application requiring a criminal records check, to aid applicants in navigating the process.