If you are looking to run a real estate business, it is important to understand the different licences that you may need in your state. However, there are also some obligations that business owners all over Australia need to be aware of. Understanding your legal responsibilities is crucial in ensuring that your business is compliant and, subsequently, can run effectively. This article will explain the different licences that your real estate business will need across Australia. 

New South Wales 

In NSW, you need a corporation licence to carry on a real estate business. You will be eligible for a corporation licence if:

  • your business is competent, of good standing and have no conflicts of interest regarding obtaining the licence (this is known as being a fit and proper person);  
  • each director of the company is a fit and proper person;
  • the corporation and each officer of the corporation has not been disqualified;
  • at least one of the directors hold a real estate license (this person must supervise the business); and
  • the corporation has paid any fees regarding the granting of the licence.

If you wish to conduct business within NSW, you must have at least one physical office within the state. Furthermore, you must appoint a licensed agent to be in charge of the office and properly supervise it. You must also appoint a different person to be in charge within each different office where you carry on business. Therefore, if you intend to run an online business in multiple states, you must still have an office in NSW with a licensed supervisor.

Victoria

In Victoria, the legal obligations are very similar to those of NSW. If you wish to run a real estate business, it must be licensed as an estate agency. Specifically, your business will need a licence to:

  • deal with or dispose of land for another person;
  • negotiate to deal with or dispose of land for another person; and
  • collect rent for other people.

To be eligible for a licence, your company must have an officer in effective control. This is someone who is in charge and holds a current estate agent’s licence in Victoria. An officer in effective control:

  • works at the principal office address of the company;
  • must be regularly at that office;
  • is fully accountable for the overall day-to-day operations of the estate agency at all offices where the company carries on business; and
  • does not need to be a director of the company.

Like in NSW, you must have at least one physical office within Victoria and the person in effective control must be different at every office.

Western Australia 

If your real estate business is in WA, you must apply for a corporate licence to carry on a business. You will be eligible if all directors and managers are:

  • people of good character and repute; and
  • fit for their role in a real estate business.

The directors must elect a person to be ‘in bona fide control’ of the business. This person must be a licensed agent and will be in charge of the business’ activities.

In WA, you must have a registered office located within the state. However, this does not have to be where you conduct your business. Instead, the registered office can just be a physical address where any legal documents can be served.

For example, it could be the address of your accountants or solicitors in WA.

Queensland

In Queensland, you must hold a corporate real estate licence to run a business that:

  • buys, sells, leases or exchanges property (or an interest in property);
  • collects rent;
  • manages rental properties;
  • negotiates and facilitates property transactions;
  • shows property to potential buyers or renters;
  • inspects properties for sale or rent;
  • advertises and opens property for inspection; and
  • operates trust accounts.

Your business will only be eligible to obtain a corporate licence if the person in charge is a licensed real estate agent themselves. However, you are not required to have an office in Queensland. If you have multiple places of business, you must register all of the addresses when applying for a license.

At the principal place of business, the person in charge must have a current individual licence. They must also appoint another licensee or registered real estate agent to be in charge at other places of business.

South Australia

In SA, you must register your real estate business if you carry on activity involving:

  • selling land belonging to others;
  • purchasing land for others;
  • dealing with land on behalf of others; or
  • conducting negotiations for the above purposes.

You must ensure that your business is properly managed and supervised by a registered agent. You must also ensure that each office is properly managed by a registered agent. As long as your agency itself holds a SA real estate licence, you do not need to have a physical office within SA.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, you must hold a licence to open a real estate agency. If at least one director of your business holds a real estate licence, you can be granted a corporate licence.

There is no requirement to have a fixed office within Tasmania. However, a company that is licensed will need to have a licensed director and managing agent. These can be the same person. However, the manager cannot manage more than one authorised place of business.

Australian Capital Territory

To run a real estate agency in the ACT, you are required to have a corporation licence. Legally, a real estate business is one where agents act on someone’s behalf to:

  • buy land;
  • sell land;
  • exchange land;
  • lease land;
  • assign land;
  • dispose of land; or
  • collect payments for land.

Your business will be eligible to be licensed if at least one director holds a real estate licence themselves. At each place of business, you must employ a licensed agent who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the place of business. However, this agent cannot be the manager of more than one location of your business. Furthermore, there is no requirement that you must have a registered office in the ACT.

Northern Territory

In NT, you must hold a real estate agent licence to act as agent in the:

  • sale of land;
  • purchase of land;
  • exchange of land;
  • leasing of land; or
  • disposition of land.

Your real estate business will be eligible to hold a licence where;

  • it has the power to carry on business as an agent;
  • all of the company’s directors and managers are fit and proper people; and
  • each person nominated to act as a manager is a licensed agent.

A business manager is someone who has control of one or more of the business’ registered offices. Under the licence, they must be specified manager of the specific offices.

There is no requirement that the registered office must be in the NT. However, you must maintain a registered office somewhere in Australia.

Key Takeaways

If you are intending on opening a real estate business, you should be aware of the laws in each of the states regarding licensing. You will need to know:

  • who in your business must have a real estate licence; and
  • whether you must have a registered office in the states that you want to carry out business in.

Getting your licence requirements right is crucial in ensuring that you can operate your business effectively. If you have any questions about setting up a real estate business, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Charlotte Hale
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