A Surrey realtor who evicted an elderly Maple Ridge couple from their home after a rent-to-own scheme in 2017 has been ordered to pay $95,000 in fines and complete an ethics in business course.
Kevindeep Singh Bratch, known as Kevin Bratch, of Bratch Realty Ltd., was ordered to pay a $45,000 penalty within three months of the date of the order and an additional $50,000 in enforcement expenses within six months of the date of the order.
He must also, at his own expense, successfully complete the Real Estate Institute’s Ethics in Business Practice course within one year of the order. And he has been banned from applying for licensing for one year from the order.
The results of the discipline hearing were published Monday Sept. 13 by the BC Financial Services Authority, the organization that oversees real estate services in the province.
On Nov. 14, 2017, the Real Estate Council of B.C. suspended Bratch’s licence while it investigated accusations of aggressive marketing and sales practices targeting vulnerable persons “who were financially distressed as a result of their homes being in foreclosure,” according to the real estate council.
He, or another partner would purchase homes at under-valued market prices. The sellers could then exercise an option to repurchase their homes, entering into tenancy agreements at above-market rental prices.
Bratch was behind a rent-to-own agreement with Maple Ridge couple Brenda and Gord Gartley in 2016 after the couple fell behind on their mortgage payments and the bank started foreclosing on their home.
The agreement enabled Bratch and a numbered company owned by his partner to purchase the Gartleys’ property for $400,000, even though it was worth $603,000. The Gartleys only received $370,000 of the money and the numbered company gave a declared value of the property to the Land Title Office of $370,000.
The difference in value became the equity of Bratch and the company.
Within a few months of purchase, Bratch and his partner had the numbered company transfer the property into their names with a new declared value of $426,000.
The Gartleys had to pay rent without default and repay the $400,000 within 12 months in order to get their property back.
However, the Gartleys were evicted after they were accused of breaching the rent-to-own agreement.
Their only option was to camp in a tent in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
In addition to the Gartleys, the hearing that took place Nov. 1 and Dec. 1-3 2020, addressed a similar rent-to-own scheme by Bratch in Pitt Meadows and in Richmond.
As per the order, Bratch must also refrain from serving as an unlicensed assistant for one year immediately prior to any application for licensing.
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