Local broker, agents disciplined by Mississippi Real Estate Comission

Published 12:01 am Friday, April 26, 2019

 

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Real Estate Commission recently suspended three Natchez real estate agents for one-month each as a disciplinary action for failure to properly disclose the agency’s dual role in leasing a house to a Natchez woman.

Charlotte Copeland, a broker with Century 21 River Cities Realty, and two of the agency’s salespersons, Karla Martin and Joanne Roper, each had their real estate licenses suspended for one month, beginning March 1, and now are on 11 months probation with the commission.

The suspensions followed an agreed order filed by the commission on Feb. 12 after an investigation into complaints filed with the commission by Addie Mills on May 8, 2018.

Mills leased a house at 21 Nottaway Trail, Natchez, through the services of Century 21 River Cities Realty on Nov. 11, 2017, for $2,000 per month with a one-year term, the commission’s order states.

“Documents obtained during the Commission investigation reflect that salesperson, respondent Karla Martin was the listing agent for the subject Nottaway Trail property and that salesperson Joanne Roper was the leasing agent regarding the lease to Mills,” the commission’s order states. “At all relevant times to the complaint, both Martin and Roper were agents licensed under respondent Copeland as their responsible broker for Century 21 River Cities Realty.”

Copeland, the commission states, failed to produce evidence that Mills was ever provided with the required disclosure form notifying her of Century 21 River Cities’ dual role in being the listing agency and the leasing agency of the property.

“The lease executed with Mills reflects that Century 21 River Cities Realty purported to represent both the lessor and lessee Mills as dual agents by mutual agreement,” the commission’s order states. “The lease, signed by salesperson, respondent Karla Martin for Century 21, reflected the representation that all parties had ‘signed and understand the Dual Agency Confirmation Form provided to them by the listing firm.’

“In notice to respondent Copeland regarding the commission’s receipt of Mills’ sworn complaint, Copeland was instructed to submit all documents associated with the Nottaway Trail transaction. No documentation or other evidence was submitted to support the representation that the parties to the lease had agreed to or understood the reported dual agency representation.”

Copeland said Thursday that it was an oversight on her agency’s part.

“We did not fill out two forms,” Copeland said. “This is just something that happens and I don’t care to talk about it …”

In addition to the dual agency oversight, the commission in handing down the suspension also noted other complaints filed by Mills that “constitute violations of the Mississippi Real Estate Brokers License Act of 1954.”

Other items in Mills’ complaint include that the property had been vacant and the real estate agency had failed to properly inspect the property “for unsafe conditions prior to leasing, including mold infestation and a natural gas leak.”

Mills also complained that the agency did not make repairs that had been promised upon her leasing the property and for other problems discovered afterward.

“Of considerable concern to Mills were issues with an alleged natural gas leak and mold growth in the home which Mills complained she felt were injurious to her health and safety,” the commission’s order states.

Copeland told the real estate commission that Mills never called about a gas leak but had sent the agency a copy of a service ticket from Atmos Energy.

“Mills complained that ‘mold’ in the home has caused her health problems,” the commission’s order states. “Mills submitted a copy of a document from her physician dated April 26, 2018, prescribing medication and which ordered/advised that Mills ‘avoid exposure to mold in the house.’”

Mills said she asked the real estate agency to test the house for mold, but Copeland said the owners of the property refused to pay for the mold testing.

“Subsequently, Mills paid for the house to be tested and submitted a copy of the report to Copeland but received no response,” the commission’s order states. “The report did not conclude evidence of ‘black mold’ but did reflect a conclusion of fungal contamination and a recommendation for extensive cleaning and remediation.”

The commission’s order said that Copeland offered Mills alternative accommodations and assistance to find another rental.

Copeland said she disputes many of Mills’ complaints.

“She (Mills) lies, and she is trying to do a lawsuit,” Copeland said. “She is just using you guys (the media).”

Mills, who moved out of the Nottaway house and away from the Miss-Lou in June, said she felt vindicated by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission’s order.

“I just thank God, because it shows that something was wrong,” Mills said Thursday.
“The facts were there. The evidence was there that I presented to them, and they looked at the facts and evidence and I thank God that they ruled in my favor.”