One of the Moncton real-estate agents who was stripped of her licence by New Brunswick’s regulatory body after a ruling that found she helped to take “outrageous and egregious advantage” of a vulnerable senior citizen, says in court documents that her actions were meant to help remove the senior from the deplorable conditions he was living in.
In a decision released last week, Alaina Nicholson, the acting director of consumer affairs for New Brunswick’s financial and consumer services commission, ruled that Tanya Hannah and her spouse, Maurice Poirier, were unsuitable to be licensed as real-estate salespeople under the province’s Real Estate Agents Act.
Hannah and Poirier were found to have paid Emile Goguen less than $17,000 in rent over the course of five years for the sale of a property that was originally listed at $324,900. The pair had agreed to pay Goguen a $1,000 stipend as part of the deal that would transfer the property to them, all while serving as the executor of Goguen’s will and having power of attorney over his affairs.
The province’s public trustee — the government agency set up to protect the personal and financial interests of New Brunswick’s vulnerable people — has now filed a civil suit against Hannah on Goguen’s behalf.
None of the allegations has been tested in court.
The trustee is attempting to get the funds that they say Goguen, who has been declared mentally incompetent, is owed as part of the collateral mortgage agreed to during the home’s sale.
Hannah says in a statement of defence filed with the provincial court that Goguen was initially referred to the couple’s Century 21 Absolute Realty Inc. in Moncton, N.B., by a third party as the senior was planning to sell his property at 12 George St.
Century 21 says Hannah and Poirier have not been affiliated with the company since August 2017.
Statement of Defence
Hannah’s statement of defence alleges that the property on George Street was in “deplorable condition” when they were first approached in early 2013. She says that the home was known as a place where squatters stayed without paying rent and did drugs.
According to the court filing, Hannah alleges that the home needed repairs to be able to be sold and Goguen didn’t have the money to pay for them. In order to assist the senior’s desire for a place to live, Hannah and Poirier agreed to purchase the home.
The document alleges they felt uneasy doing so but did so as they believed “it would be in his best interest to be removed from such environment.”
Hannah, through her lawyer, declined to comment for this article.
Statement of Claim
The statement of claim filed by the public trustee says that Hannah agreed to purchase the home on George Street in her name for $238,000, or roughly three-quarters of the listed price of $324,900.
The deal allegedly involved the senior providing an interest-free loan and a “substantial” $138,000 renovation credit to Hannah in return for a $100,000 collateral mortgage against the property.
The senior would also receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 that would partially cover his rent.
However, the claim says Hannah never registered the mortgage.
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Lawyer says pair’s actions “disgusting”
The statement of defence alleges that any damages incurred by Goguen are not Hannah’s fault and that Jennifer Hébert, the lawyer who prepared the documents for Hannah and Poirier, is responsible.
Hannah alleges that Hébert acted under a conflict of interest as she was acting for both Hannah and Goguen and failed to provide Goguen with “competent independent legal advice” for the sale.
She also alleges the lawyer was the one who failed to register the mortgage.
Hannah has now filed a third-party claim against Hébert — which effectively brings her into the ongoing civil lawsuit.
Hébert disputes the allegations put forward by Hannah.
“I wish to be clear that I was not complicit in the actions of Mr. Poirier and Ms. Hannah, and I am disgusted by their alleged conduct,” she wrote in a statement provided to Global News by her lawyer.
“My limited legal work for their former real estate client was in 2013, almost 5 years ago, at which time I took my instructions from the client directly and he gave no indication of disability. I have not seen him since.”
Hébert says that she is going to defend herself against the lawsuit as well as a complaint filed with the New Brunswick Law Society on March 2, about her conduct involving the sale of the home.
The law society complaint states that Hébert showed a lack of competence and acted in a conflict of interest by allowing Goguen to sell his house to Hannah.