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Legally speaking: Who can be a signatory on the brokerage trust account?

By Lorie Garland, OAR Assistant Vice President of Legal Services

The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work within the law, our “Legally Speaking” series spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one involves who can be a signatory on the brokerage trust account or accounts for property management services…

Q: Who can be a signatory on the brokerage trust account?

A: The broker is responsible for the brokerage trust account and is subject to disciplinary action by the Ohio Real Estate Commission if the trust account is not maintained pursuant to the real estate license law requirements. However, it is impractical in most brokerages, especially those that provide property management services or have multiple office locations, for the broker to be the only signatory on the trust account. Therefore, the broker can authorize others in the company, whether licensed or not, to be signatories on the brokerage trust account. The broker must always oversee the trust account and should be prudent in their choice of account signatories as responsibility and liability ultimately lies with the broker.

Q: Do the same signatory requirements apply to the brokerage property management trust account?

A: Yes.

Q: If a brokerage that provides property management services has a property owner who wants an account in the owner’s name that the brokerage has signatory authority on, who in the brokerage can be authorized as the signatory for the brokerage?

A: The signatory for the brokerage can be any licensee, broker or agent, that the brokerage and owner have agreed to. As with the brokerage trust account the brokerage may also have a non-licensee as a signatory on this account. However, as with any brokerage trust account, responsibility and liability for the proper handling of this account ultimately lies with the broker.

Tags: legal, Legally Speaking