The N.C. Real Estate Commission has suspended Laney Real Estate Co.’s license until Sept. 1, according to a consent order, and president and owner George Laney says he has been working with the commission to get the firm’s license back.
Laney said the money from the firm’s security deposit trust accounts were seized by the N.C. Department of Revenue after he failed to file a form.
“The department of revenue inadvertently levied one of our trust accounts,” Laney said. “We failed to respond to one of their notices. They were sending it to the wrong address. We are immediately working with them regarding the error.”
Laney Real Estate offers rental property management services in Wilmington and surrounding areas, according to the firm's website.
The firm’s license suspension came after two transfers for non-client legal orders, one of $27,016 and another of $50,416, were made from the firm’s tenant security deposit trust account, according to the consent order by the commission.
Janet Thoren, director of regulatory affairs for the N.C. Real Estate Commission, said the account showed the transfer pertained to a legal order, but the legal order was not client-related.
She said trust accounts hold money that a tenant gives to a property management firm to hold in case there is damage to the property when a tenant moves out.
“It would be reimbursed back to the tenant or owner,” Thoren said. “They might be paying some repairs for damages regarding it, but there is no reason that I am aware of for some legal order being paid of that amount.”
Laney said the department can levy the firm’s accounts, but not the trust account because it is where they hold client’s security deposits.
“We hold money and trust for others and we respect that possession and we called the commission first," Laney said. "We didn’t take it and we didn’t allow them to take it.”
According to the notice, the firm has to deposit the total of $77,432 back into the account by Sept. 1 and demonstrate that the account is fully balanced in order to get the license back, which Laney said he had done as of Friday afternoon.
“We have provided required documentation to the commission to demonstrate that the trust account is fully deposited and balanced. We have provided that information and are waiting word that we can get back to business in order,” Laney said.
Thoren said that as of Monday morning, the firm has not gotten its license back.
The commission is waiting on proof that the bank account is balanced before ending the suspension, Thoren said.
According to the NREC Real Estate Bulletin from May 2011, Laney Real Estate Co.’s license was previously suspended in 2011 due to deficits in the trust account which were not balanced for several weeks in 2006, and for unauthorized disbursement of abandoned client money from the firm’s trust accounts. The suspension was changed to a probation period of five years.