Payments from estate agents trust accounts

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Money from a trust account can only be paid:

  • to the person who is entitled to that money - usually the seller or the landlord
  • by cheque or electronic funds transfer.

The principal agent or officer in effective control must sign the cheques or authorise the electronic fund transfers. If they are not available, an employee who is a signatory to the agency's trust account may sign or authorise payments.

When money is paid from a trust account, the agency’s commission and expenses for the transaction may be withdrawn from the payment.

Recording payment details

When you make a payment or withdrawal, you must record on the cheque butt or EFT:

  • date of the cheque or EFT payment
  • serial or reference number of the cheque or EFT payment
  • name of the person to whom the payment is made or, in the case of a payment to a financial institution, the name or BSB of the financial institution and the name of the person receiving the payment
  • name, reference, account and BSB number (EFT only) or other identification of the person on whose behalf the payment was made
  • details identifying the account in the trust ledger to which the payment is to be debited
  • information stating why the payment was made
  • amount of the cheque or EFT payment.

Payments made by cheque must:

  • be machine numbered in sequence
  • be marked ‘not negotiable’
  • not be payable to cash, or similar
  • contain the name the estate agent uses to conduct business and the words ‘trust account’
  • be signed by the estate agent or, if the agent is a corporation, the officer in effective control; or, if they are unavailable, by an employee who is a signatory to the trust account.

You must also update a cash payments journal with all daily withdrawals from the account. For more information, see Accounting for trust money.

Register of trust cheques

You must maintain a register of trust cheques that records the:

  • serial number of each cheque
  • date a batch of cheques is received from the financial institution
  • name of any employee or agent’s representative to whom cheques are given
  • date cheques are handed to an employee or agent’s representative
  • date cheques are returned.

PEXA source account

Under the Sale of Land Act 1962, you can only transfer deposit money from a trust account to the PEXA source account if your client expressly directs you to.