Document offers more details about real estate agency's alleged problems

·4 min read
The Century 21 A&T Countryside Realty Inc. office in Moncton.  (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)
The Century 21 A&T Countryside Realty Inc. office in Moncton. (Pierre Fournier/CBC - image credit)

More information has emerged about the allegations against a New Brunswick real estate agency that a regulator wants shutdown.

The Financial and Consumer Services Commission announced Tuesday it filed an application seeking to revoke the licence of Century 21 A&T Countryside Realty Inc.

However, few details were offered beyond a news release. The Financial and Consumer Services Tribunal, which would hear the request, released a copy of the statement of allegations Wednesday. The statement names the agency and a manager as respondents.

The document alleges there were repeated instances in which a trust fund account had insufficient funds compared to what it should have held, funds were used "for purposes other than the terms on which it was received," funds were withdrawn before they should have been, and there were complaints about late commission payments.

In the period between an offer being accepted an the closing date, a buyer may be required to provide a deposit.

The Real Estate Agents Act states that when an agent receives a cheque as a deposit with an offer, the money must be placed into a trust account when the offer is accepted.

Agency to defend itself

A&T Countryside Realty has not provided an interview. In a statement to media on Wednesday, the agency said it takes the allegations seriously and has spent "considerable time and resources addressing" the commission's requests.

"Century 21 A&T Countryside Realty Inc. will defend the allegations and welcomes the opportunity to tell its side of the story at the Tribunal," it stated.

The agency's statement says it takes issue with the commission's news release issued Tuesday because it doesn't contain all of the facts and could be misinterpreted.

The statement did not address some of the more specific information laid out in the statement of allegations. A lawyer representing the agency did not respond to a request for an interview.

Pierre Fournier/CBC
Pierre Fournier/CBC

The statement says the agency opened its first office six years ago in Moncton. The commission has said the agency now has 24 sales people with offices in Fredericton, Rothesay, Saint Andrews, Shediac, and Campbellton.

The complaint names a manager who worked at A&T's Moncton office since 2016. It says the person oversees sales records of agents by ensuring proper document handling, record keeping, and trust account administration.

The manager declined to comment.

The alleged violations largely centre on the trust accounts, saying rules were repeatedly violated.

The Respondents also apparently do not consider the repeated trust account breaches to be serious, as they have not corrected the deficiencies brought to their attention. - Statement of allegations

"It further appears that the trust fund handling by the Respondents has been deficient since the opening of the agency, and that the Respondents did not have the proper procedures in place to oversee proper trust account administration," the statement of allegations says.

It says attempts to bring the agency into compliance over several years have not led to changes in practices.

"The Respondents also apparently do not consider the repeated trust account breaches to be serious, as they have not corrected the deficiencies brought to their attention," the document states.

The statement of allegations says the agency has 30 days from the time it receives the document to file a notice it intends to defend itself. It's unclear how long it may take for the tribunal to hear the issue and make a decision.

In the statement to media saying it would defend itself before the tribunal, the agency said it will "continue working with [the commission's] reasonable and necessary requests." It also said the agency remains open and operational.

New Brunswick RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Nick Arbour said the force has not received a complaint about the agency.

The New Brunswick Real Estate Association, which co-regulates the real estate industry with the Financial and Consumer Services Commission, did not provide an interview.

In an emailed statement, it only said it respects the commission's role in "taking any necessary steps to initiate enforcement proceedings in the interest of protecting the public."

The association referred any other questions to the commission. The commission in turn said it wouldn't comment and directed CBC News to the statement of allegations.

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