Trust account audits online

Trust account audits moving online

5 June 2019
As of 1 July 2019, real estate agent and conveyancer’s trust account audits must be lodged online via NSW Fair Trading’s new Auditors Report Online portal.

The portal, which will be accessible via NSW Fair Trading’s website from 1 July 2019, requires auditors to complete and lodge trust account audits online, rather than in paper form. 

Auditors will be required to lodge all trust account audits online, not just qualified audits (audits that reveal a breach).

NSW Fair Trading advises that licensees will receive an email seeking permission for their auditor to lodge their trust account audit. Licensees must respond before the auditor can proceed.

Licensees will receive a copy of the audit report via email when it is lodged online. 

NSW Fair Trading states the changes to trust accounts audits are part of reforms being rolled out across NSW to improve the skills of real estate and property professionals, and raise the sector’s professional and education standards.

These changes reflect the upcoming legislative trust account reforms to the PSBA Act, which are expected to commence 1 July 2019 – although no proclamation date has as yet been announced. The reforms are set out in the Fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Reform) Act 2018 (NSW). 

Such changes have been a long time coming, noting that they were also caught up in the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Property Industry Reform) Act 2018 (NSW), which is also yet to commence.

NSW Fair Trading has produced an Auditors Report Online guide, available on its website from 1 July 2019, that will assist agents and auditors using the new portal. It has also extended the deadline for audits for the year ending 30 June 2019 from 30 September 2019 to 31 December 2019.

“Four years ago, NSW Fair Trading made the decision to remove the obligation for real estate agents to lodge their annual trust account audits in what it claimed removed ‘red tape’,” says Tim McKibbin, REINSW CEO.

“Upon becoming aware of the decision, we opposed it, pointing out that this procedure is a consumer protection mechanism which is applied in all industries where providers of goods and services hold clients’ money in trust.

“REINSW hopes in requiring all trust account audits to be lodged online – not just qualified audits – consumer protection will once again be the primary motive for change, rather than the lessening of the regulators administrative burden.”
 
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