Two Moncton real estate agents have lost their licenses for at least a year for taking advantage of a vulnerable senior and homeowner.
Tanya Hannah and Maurice Poirier were found unsuitable to be licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act by the Financial and Consumer Services Commission, which regulates agents in the province.
The commission said Hannah and Poirier, who at the time owned Century 21 Absolute Realty Inc. in Moncton, committed financial abuse of a senior.
He lost his home, his only asset, and was provided with nothing more than a year-and-a-half’s rent.– Alaina Nicholson, Financial and Consumer Services Commission
Alaina Nicholson, the acting director of consumer affairs for the commission, reviewed the pair’s professional conduct and found they took “outrageous and egregious advantage” of the senior, the commission said in a news release Wednesday.
Hannah and Poirier entered into a listing agreement with the senior in early 2013 to sell the man’s home, according to Nicholson.
The property stayed on the market for months without being sold, so Hannah entered into an agreement with the senior to purchase his home for about three-quarters of its listed price of $324,900.
The deal also required the senior to give Hannah an interest-free loan and “substantial” renovation credit in return for Hannah paying for the mortgage collateral against the property, as well as a monthly stipend to partially cover his rent.
Nicholson found the senior received less than $17,000 in rent payments for the sale of his property.
The senior had also named Hannah and Poirier a power of attorney and had appointed Poirier the executor, trustee and sole beneficiary under his will and Hannah as alternate executor, trustee and beneficiary in December 2013, Nicholson noted in her decision.
“It is clear that they gained substantially from the transaction, to (the senior’s) detriment,” Nicholson said.
“He lost his home, his only asset, and was provided with nothing more than a year-and-a-half’s rent.”
No license for a year
The plight of the senior came to the attention of the commission after he wound up in the hospital.
The regulator’s decision means Hannah and Poirier will not be able to apply to be re-licensed for a year, at which time their suitability will be reassessed by the commission.
The numbers listed online for Poirier and Hannah’s business were no longer in service Wednesday, and their names were no longer in Century 21’s database of real estate agents.
A spokesperson for Century 21 said the company only recently learned of the “disturbing” allegations and disciplinary action against Hannah and Poirier, and that the two have not been affiliated with Century 21 since August 2017.
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission said Poirier has filed a motion to appeal the regulator’s decision.
Case now in province’s hands
Rick Hancox, CEO of the Financial and Consumer Services Commission, says the case came to light when the victim ended up in hospital and doctors realized he couldn’t make decisions for himself. (CBC)
Rick Hancox, the CEO of the commission, said the commission has not seen a case of this extensive since it was formed in 2013.
“It’s a very hard story to understand,” he said. “In essence, it’s taking advantage of somebody, taking away their home, their primary asset that has a significant value, and arranging things so that they were the beneficiary.”
The commission first learned of the allegations from the public trustee office, which deals with vulnerable people who are unable to make decisions about their own personal care, finances or health care, Hancox said.
The public trustee stepped in after the senior ended up being hospitalized, and doctors found he did not have the mental capacity to make his own decisions, Hancox said.
The man’s case is now in the hands of that office, which is also pursuing a civil action against Hannah to recoup money owing to the senior, Hancox said. The mortgage company has also taken over the house.
While the public trustee office is seeking compensation for the senior, Hancox said people trying to get their money back after they’re defrauded don’t have a good success record.