FAQ’s regarding Trust Accounts

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FAQ’s regarding Trust Accounts

Every day, when we’re talking with our clients, we are asked recurring questions by existing and new Property Managers, Licensees and Real Estate Agents in our busy Industry.

In Queensland, there are laws to protect how money is received by Property Agents and Management Rights Licensees.

Agents must maintain their trust account in accordance with the following Acts and Regulations.

  • Property Occupations Act 2014
  • Agents Financial Administration Act 2014
  • Agents Financial Administration Regulation 2014

 

What is Trust Money?

Rental payments received on behalf of another person or deposits received on behalf of another person for the sale of a property.

Who can operate a Trust Account?

A Resident Letting Agent or a Principal-Agent of a business who holds a Full Real Estate licence. This licence is issued by The Office of Fair Trading.

What words must be included in the name of the Trust Account?

You must include the words “Trust Account” in the account name.

Who must notify The Office of Fair Trading of the opening or closure of a Trust Account?

Within two months (60 days) of opening or closure of a trust account, the agent must complete an Agents Financial Administration (Form 5) and lodge with the OFT. Your auditor may also do this on your behalf.

Do you have to appoint an Auditor after the opening a Trust Account?

The agent must give written notice of the appointment of an auditor within one month (30 days) of the opening of the Trust Account. The notice must include the auditor’s name and address and provide evidence that the auditor has accepted the appointment.

If an agent’s Auditor resigns or the agent ends the appointment of the Auditor what must be done?

Both the agent and the auditor must give written notice to the Office of Fair Trading immediately. The agent must engage a new auditor if the trust account is still operational.

When should the End of Month Cash Book Reconciliation be completed?

At the end of each calendar month, the agent must reconcile their trust account cash book with their trust ledger and a bank statement from their financial institution. They must complete this within five days after the end of the month using the bank balance of the financial institution as at the end of the previous month. 

Who is responsible for lodgement of the Audit report with the Office of Fair Trading?

The agent is responsible for the lodgement of their audit report, however, auditors can lodge audit reports on an agent’s behalf.  This process can be completed online.

Who is responsible to ensure the Trust account has had the two unannounced examinations by the auditor in the Audit period?

It is the agent’s responsibility to ensure the Trust account is audited in line with legislation.

Does my auditor have to visit onsite to complete my trust account examination?

No, legislation states the two unannounced examinations can be done remotely away from your office.  The auditor is only required to be onsite for the final audit examination of your audit period.

How long must Trust records be retained?

Agents must keep hard copies of the trust account ledger, completed cashbook reconciliations and audit reports for five years.

When should Rental Bonds be lodged with the Residential Tenancy Authority?

Bonds must be receipted and lodged with the Residential Tenancy Authority within 10 days from date receipt. RTA Bonds can now be lodged online.

What experience should I look for when appointing my auditor?

An experienced auditor with a background in Real Estate and Management Rights is paramount when looking for an auditor for your business.  At The MBA Partnership our auditor, Deslea Firth, has 20 years’ experience within the industry having managed her own management rights businesses and holds a current Real Estate licence.

Does NSW have different rules and Legislation for Trust Accounts?

Yes, agents must maintain their trust account in accordance with the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002. The NSW legislation is quite different to QLD, if you would like further information on the requirements of the legislation please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Can my auditor help me with other things I need, like getting my tax, BAS and bookkeeping done?

In some cases yes. At The MBA Partnership, we are able to offer you comprehensive services which include trust account auditing, accounting and taxation, verifications, bookkeeping, data and telephony solutions and wealth management.

 

If you have any additional questions you would like to be answered, please contact Michael Beddoes via mbeddoes@mbapartnership.com.au. Michael is a partner at The MBA Partnership and also, our in-house Management Rights expert.