Will Your Criminal Record or Disciplinary History Keep You from Getting Licensed?
Prospective license holders must meet TREC’s qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. Certain elements of your background may disqualify you from obtaining a license, but you don’t have to wait until the final steps of the licensing process to find out. Save your time and money and request a Fitness Determination, or FD.
Prior criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, disciplinary actions against you associated with professional or occupational licenses you hold, or performing unlicensed activity are all reasons why you might want to request a FD from TREC and submit a Fitness Determination (FD) form.
Although optional, requesting a FD as your first step in the licensing process means you can find out whether you’re eligible to become licensed before you take qualifying education courses, pay for an application, and take the exam.
What is a Fitness Determination (FD)?
Before you apply for a license, you can request that the Commission determine whether your fitness meets TREC’s qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. You must submit a completed Fitness Determination (FD) form along with any additional required documentation before TREC will review your eligibility.
Who should request a Fitness Determination (FD)?
If you have any criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, had discipline taken against a professional or occupational license, or have performed unlicensed activity, you should consider requesting a FD. The FD process is an affordable way to determine if you are eligible to pursue a license.
Am I required to request a Fitness Determination (FD)?
Requesting a FD is optional, a FD request can save you time and money if you submit the form and undergo the process prior to taking your qualifying education, or at the very least, before you submit your application for licensure.
Can I request a Fitness Determination (FD) after I have already applied for a license?
If you have already submitted your application, it is too late to request a FD.
Can I request a Fitness Determination (FD) at the same time as my license application?
No. You should not submit your license application at the same time as your request.
How is a Fitness Determination different from a background check?
TREC’s fitness determination is based only on the information you provide, and it is not a full background check.
If you have a criminal background, you should disclose all misdemeanors and felonies, even if they are old offenses. You should also disclose all criminal offenses where you were placed on parole, probation, or community supervision—also known as deferred adjudication—even if the case was later dismissed.
Does a Fitness Determination replace a background check?
No. You are required by law to have fingerprints on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) so a background check can be performed, even if you are cleared through the Fitness Determination. A license will not issue if the background check has not been passed. Expect a delay if you are notified of an investigation into your background history.
For which license types can someone request a Fitness Determination (FD)?
Anyone seeking a TREC-issued license or certificate can request a FD and submit the Fitness Determination (FD) form.
How long does it take TREC to process a Fitness Determination (FD) after I submit my form and information?
For a faster processing time, submit a fully completed Fitness Determination (FD) form with any additional required documentation. After all required documentation is obtained by TREC, either initially filed with the form or following subsequent requests for additional information, the Commission will review the information and make a fitness determination within 30 days.
- Do fully complete your Fitness Determination (FD) form.
- Do submit your court documents with your form.
- Do disclose everything. TREC’s fitness determination is based only on the information provided with your request and it is not a full background check. If you have a criminal background, you should disclose all misdemeanors and felonies, even if they are old offenses. You should also disclose all criminal offenses where you were placed on parole, probation, or community supervision—also known as deferred adjudication—even if the case was later dismissed.
- Don't send materials by mail or fax.
- Don’t request a FD if you don’t need one. It is not useful if you do not have any criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, had discipline taken against a professional or occupational license, and have not performed unlicensed activity.
- Don’t request an FD at the same time you submit an application, or if you have a pending application with TREC.
Submit the $52 nonrefundable fee for your FD using our Online Services platform. You may need to register if you don’t already have a username and password. The only way you will receive your Fitness Determination (FD) form and information on whether you are eligible is through email. Make sure you register for the Online Services platform with an email account that you can readily access. Once your $52 nonrefundable fee payment is complete, you will receive an email within five business days with a link to the Fitness Determination (FD) form and instructions on how to submit the form for review. Emails from TREC may end up in your spam folder, so be sure to check if you have paid but not received the form and instructions as expected.
TREC does not accept Fitness Determination (FD) forms or materials via mail or fax.
Chapter 53 of the Texas Occupations Code authorizes licensing agencies to deny a license if they have a criminal offense that is directly related to the license.
You can find a list of criminal offenses that are directly related to real estate broker and real estate sales agent licenses in Commission Rule 541.1(a). The list of criminal offenses directly related to professional inspector, real estate inspector, apprentice inspector and easement or right-of-way agents is in Commission Rule 541.1(b).
Having a criminal offense does not automatically disqualify an applicant from holding a license. The Commission must look at several factors to determine if an applicant is eligible for a license. Specifically, the Commission must consider the factors in Section 53.023, Texas Occupations Code:
- 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
- Other evidence of the person's fitness, including letters of recommendation.
While Chapter 53 of the Texas Occupations Code allows licensing agencies to deny a license for certain criminal convictions, it is ultimately designed so that eventually an individual can become licensed. In other words, a conviction that may prevent someone from obtaining a license now is not a permanent bar from obtaining a license.
In cases where a license holder is convicted after they have been licensed, TREC can only consider felonies and any offense involving fraud. The Commission must consider the factors listed above to determine what discipline to take.
The Commission must also consider if the license holder notified the Commission within 30 days of a final conviction or the entry of plea of guilty or nolo contendre to the felony or offense involving fraud. The failure to timely notify the Commission can lead to additional discipline and an administrative penalty.