A one-month delay in submitting a trust account audit has resulted in a Cairns real estate agent receiving a $6,500 fine.
Lynn Evelyn Arney, head of Cairns Residential Property Management, was fined $1,500 and her company a further $5,000 after she pleaded guilty to the charges laid down by the Cairns Magistrates Court.
Queensland Fair Trading said the decision is consistent with the Agents Financial Administration Act (2014), which stipulates that real estate agents must have a yearly trust account audit conducted and lodged with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The purpose of these audits is to provide an external check on important details relating to the operation of the trust account as well as the monies collected and being disbursed by such accounts.
The company had failed to submit its 2021 audit by the August deadline, instead doing so in September, hence resulting in the fine.
Additionally, the company had received two infringement notices for the same offence in both 2019 and 2020.
The ruling serves as a strong reminder for real estate agents of their obligations to properly manage trust accounts, according to commissioner for fair trading, Victoria Thomson.
“Agents who fail to comply with their trust account obligations will be held to account by the OFT and the penalties they incur will escalate if they continue to fail to meet their responsibilities,” Ms Thomson said.
“Trust money is not the agent’s money, so the right to have a trust account comes with responsibilities.”
The ruling comes in the same month as a Victorian former principal was alleged to have caused more than $185,000 in trust account deficiencies.