‘Rent to own’ put them out of home on Thanksgiving, but Xmas brought something brighter

A Maple Ridge couple left homeless on Thanksgiving has received over $7,000 in donations that were raised by realtors ahead of Christmas.

Brenda and Gord Gartley were left homeless on Thanksgiving after a realtor claimed that they were in breach of a “rent-to-own” agreement.

Today, that realtor’s licence has been suspended. And the Gartleys now have hope that their Christmas will be a “little bit brighter.”

WATCH: B.C. realtor suspended for possible predatory practices

B.C. realtor suspended for possible predatory practices
B.C. realtor suspended for possible predatory practices

The Gartleys entered a “rent-to-own” agreement with realtor Kevin Bratch after they had difficulty keeping with their mortgage payments, and a bank was ready to foreclose on the home they had owned on Rogers Avenue in Maple Ridge for a decade.

Health costs had mounted as Brenda took care of her brother, who has a disability.

The “rent-to-own” deal would see them become tenants in their own home, and give them time to raise money and buy it back for $400,000.

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READ MORE: Rent-to-own arrangement leaves elderly pair out of their home on Thanksgiving

Bratch and a partner later alleged that the couple was in breach of their contract, and they were faced with eviction.

That happened on Thanksgiving Day, and the Gartleys were forced to spend the time living out of a tent in Golden Ears Park.

The Gartleys later sued Bratch and his partner, alleging “predatory lending.”

WATCH: Rent-to buy plan leaves couple homeless

Rent-to buy plan leaves couple homeless
Rent-to buy plan leaves couple homeless

Real estate agents with the Port Coquitlam-based office of Keller Williams Realty decided to step up and help after hearing the Gartleys’ story.

Realtor Sherri Pitre, a neighbour of the Gartleys, reached out to other agents in the hope of helping them.

Matt Bastien, another realtor, picked up the phone and started calling clients, friends and colleagues soliciting donations for the recently-homeless couple.

READ MORE: B.C. realtor suspended for alleged predatory schemes

Keller Williams Realty also held some “funny auctions” at its Christmas party last week.

Together, the realtors managed to raise $7,145 to help the Gartleys pay for their legal fees.

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A number of agents met the couple for the first time on Wednesday, when they presented them with a cheque.

Brenda cried and clutched her hands to her chest as she received it.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she told Global News.

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“That’s all I needed to see, was a little light. It’s hopefully going to be a good ending.”

“Christmas might be a little bit brighter now, than it was say a month ago,” Gord said.

The Gartleys are currently living in a trailer on someone else’s property.

And they’re deeply thankful to neighbours on Rogers Avenue who stepped up to help them.

“It’s a very strong street, very strong people there, and we’d like to be back,” Brenda said.

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The Real Estate Council of BC announced in November that it had suspended Bratch’s licence and that of Bratch Realty Ltd. as it investigated the realtor’s conduct.

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The council said it would investigate whether Bratch was “engaged in aggressive marketing and sales practices targeting vulnerable persons who were financially distressed as a result of their homes being in foreclosure proceedings.”

“The council is also investigating whether these were ‘predatory’ schemes for personal gain and profit at the expense of those who were in distress.”

  • Video reporting by Geoff Hastings
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