Criminal History Checks for Real Estate Agents

The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) welcomes today’s High Court decision that allows its Registrar to request a range of criminal history information from real estate agents before deciding whether to issue or renew a licence.

The High Court rejected an argument by licensed real estate agent Luke Domb that the Registrar should be limited to only requesting information about an agent’s criminal convictions, and not their wider criminal history, when making a decision about whether the agent is a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The REAA successfully argued that a broader range of criminal history information is relevant to the Registrar when making the fit and proper assessment to ensure consumers are protected. 

The High Court has agreed that the following information must be provided when applying for or renewing a real estate licence:​
  • ​Criminal convictions.  
  • Information the Police have about pending charges against an applicant for offences where the applicant can elect trial by jury or for infringement offences carrying a maximum penalty of $10,000 or more.  
  • A record of any discharges without conviction and charges which have resulted in diversion, where the charges were ones where the applicant could elect trial by jury or were for infringement offences carrying a maximum penalty of $10,000 or more.  
A previous decision of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal determined that while the Registrar could ask for this information, they could not require agents to provide it. The High Court has made it clear that the Registrar can require agents to provide this information.

The Court has held that the Registrar is not entitled to access any information which may be held by the Police other than in the categories above.  The REAA is considering whether to appeal against this aspect of the Court’s judgment as it limits our access to what we believe is very important information.

“The REAA and the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 is all about consumer protection” says the REAA’s Chief Executive and Registrar Kevin Lampen-Smith. “We want to make real estate transactions safe for everyone involved so it is important that we have all the relevant information about a person, including information about any criminal history, before deciding whether they can enter or stay in the real estate industry”.

 “We are trusting real estate agents with what is, for most of us, our most important asset and we let them into our homes so it is vital that agents are well vetted. We welcome this decision by the High Court that helps ensure only suitable people are able to hold a real estate licence” concluded Mr Lampen-Smith.

More Information

About the Real Estate Agents Authority 

The Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) is the independent government regulatory body for the real estate industry in New Zealand.
Our job is to promote a high standard of service and professionalism in the real estate industry and help protect buyers and sellers.
We provide information for buyers and sellers, provide advice and guidance for agents and deal with complaints about agents' behaviour.
The REAA is a Crown entity, established under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.


Ngaire Vanderhoof
(04) 815 8466