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Home > Property agents and managers > Legal requirements > Trust accounts

Trust accounts

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Specifically for licensee´s trust accounts under the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 (the Act) and the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Regulation 2001 (the Regulation)


A trust account is a bank account where you can hold money on behalf of another person.

There are two types of trust accounts:

General Trust Account:
For use by licensees including real estate agents, resident letting agents, auctioneers, pastoral house agents and commercial agents. Must be used for:

Special Trust Account:
Under Section 380 of the Act, a special trust account is used for investing amounts that are to be held in trust for a sale that is to be completed more than 60 days after the amount is received. All parties to the sale must direct that the amount be invested.

You can only operate a trust account if you hold an appropriate licence.

You need to use a trust account if you receive an amount for the following reasons including:

Reconciling trust records and payments to trust creditors

Information regarding trust account cash book reconciliations and payments to owners is contained within the relevant legislation. This includes the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 (the Act) and the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Regulation 2001 (the Regulations).

Licensees using trust accounting software will generally combine reconciliation and disbursement processes when performing their "end of month" procedures. This may result in the licensee not reconciling in accordance with the legislation or not paying owners in accordance with their instructions.

It is recommended that licensees familiarise themselves with the capabilities of the software they use so the following can be done independently:

  1. calculation of amounts and disbursement to owners at the date(s) agreed in appointment forms;
  2. reconcile the trust records in accordance with the Regulations.

Payments to trust creditors including disbursement to owners

Trust creditors must be paid in accordance with the legislation (Sections 384, 385 & 386 of the Act) and the appointment form (for example PAMD Form 20a), unless otherwise requested in writing (Section 385(4) of the Act).

An amount paid to a licensee´s trust account must be kept in the account until it is paid out under the Act. Failure to do so can lead to the maximum penalty of 200 units ($22,000) or 3 years imprisonment.

The timing of payments to owners, as agreed in the appointment documentation, may not coincide with the end of the month.

The appointment form must state-

For more information please consult the Act.

Reconciliation

Licensees must perform their trust account cash book reconciliation in accordance with Regulation 47. This requires that reconciliations must be performed after the end of the month using the bank statement balance at the end of the month.

A principal licensee must, within 5 business days after the end of each month-

The reconciliation must contain the balance of the financial institution statement balance at the end of the month. Failure to do so can lead to the maximum penalty of 10 units ($1,100).

For more information concerning reconciliations please consult the Regulations.

Summary

Reconciliations must be performed in accordance with Regulation 47.
Payments to trust creditors must be disbursed in accordance with the Act and in accordance with terms agreed to in the appointment.

Opening, closing or changing a trust account

Section 375 of the Act requires the licensee to present a copy of their current licence to an approved financial institution within Queensland to open a trust account or special trust account.

In accordance with Section 377 of the Act, you must notify us using Form 19 within 14 days if you:

You can only open a general trust account in a company name if your corporation holds a current licence issued under the Act.

As per Section 376 of the Act, the title of a trust account must include the following:

You can only open a general trust account or a special trust account at an approved financial institution in Queensland (listed below).

Approved financial institutions

Trust accounts factsheet

To assist approved financial instituitions when establishing a trust account under the Act.

Issuing trust account receipts (Regulation 42)

You must issue a receipt as soon as you receive trust money in the form of cash or cheque. However, for trust money received by way of credit card or electronic funds transfer, you must issue a receipt as soon as you become aware that you have received the amount. You only need to provide a receipt if requested to do so. Under the Act you must only use a receipt that is titled 'Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 - Trust Account Receipt'.

The receipt contains (Regulation 41) the:

If the person paying the money is different from the person on the contract of sale, make the receipt out to the person paying the money. However, include a note that the payment was made on behalf of the names on the contract of sale.

Withdrawing amounts from a trust account

You can only withdraw money, including transaction expenses, fees, charges and commissions detailed in the ´Appointment to act´ in accordance with Sections 384 and 385 of the Act if:

You can also withdraw it once the transaction is finalised, e.g. when the contract for a sale has been settled or terminated.

If you cannot find the beneficiaries of money held in a trust account, contact the Public Trustee.

Making electronic funds transfers

Distribute all trust money directly from the trust account. It is illegal to transfer money to recipients via a general trading account.

Keeping trust account records in accordance with Regulations 38 and 58

Keep your trust account records for five years. These records include:

You must also keep full and accurate accounts of all money you pay or receive for a sale or transaction.

You must keep your books, accounts and records so that they can be audited easily and properly.

Trust account not used during audit period (refer Section 401 of the Act)

You are not required to submit an audit report for a trust account not used during an audit period.

However, you are required to submit a statutory declaration stating that you did not operate a trust account during the audit period.

Additional information

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Last reviewed 17/01/2014

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