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Hi Care Real Estate fails to meet audit requirements

21 July 2020

A Hope Island real estate agency, Hi Care Real Estate Group Pty Ltd, has been ordered to pay $1,044 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 17 July 2020 for failing to lodge an audit report on time with the Office of Fair Trading.

Under the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014, real estate agents have four months from the end of their audit period to lodge a report with the OFT.

The Hi Care Real Estate Group’s audit report was due in March 2019 but it was 79 days late in submitting it.

The court heard that the OFT issued Hi Care Real Estate Group Pty Ltd an infringement notice for the offence but the agency elected not to pay it and instead have the matter heard in court.

In sentencing, Magistrate Judith Daley said the licensee held public money and the trust account required stringent oversight to ensure defalcation did not occur, therefore audit reports were required to be submitted on time.

No conviction was recorded.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said this court action should act as a reminder to real estate agents about their legislative obligations when it came to operating a trust account.

“Reports of agents who fail to follow their trust account obligations are taken very seriously by the OFT,” Mr Bauer said.

“Audit measures are in place to ensure the integrity and accountability of the industry.

“Agents are able to get assistance from legal or financial professionals, or even the OFT if they have questions regarding the operation of their trust accounts.”

A guide outlining trust account requirements is available on the OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13QGOV (13 74 68).