Trust account breaches by real estate agents are rife across Australia.
Visits to 12 real estate agents in Parramatta the first week of June identified nine breaches of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 at four businesses.
Two of the breaches at one business were serious enough to warrant Fair Trading fines totalling $2,200.
“Most of these breaches involved trust account anomalies,” said Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe.
“As custodians of their clients’ funds which can run into millions of dollars, real estate agents have a huge responsibility. Careless bookkeeping is not acceptable,” he added.
In comparison (and highly embarrassing for the industry). the eight motor vehicle dealers and repairers inspected were found to be 100% compliant.
The visits were carried out as part of Fair Trading’s ‘My Place’ educational initiative.
Stowe said in the coming weeks Fair Trading officers would re-inspect the businesses where breaches were found to ensure compliance with relevant fair trading laws.
Monies are lodged in trust accounts in order to be protected. Agents are not allowed to use money in trust accounts for their own purposes.
Recent breaches were identified among Perth, Melbourne estate agents, a $412,000 misappropriation of funds resulting in a five year jail term for a Brisbane agent and a Gold Coast agent fined $50,000 for over 200 breaches.