A blind man who says a realtor “tricked” him into selling his Toronto home against his will is taking the dispute to court..
Harold Verge, 73, and his wife Florence filed a $1.25-million lawsuit Wednesday against GTA realtor Vince Iannello and Royal LePage Your Community Realty brokerage alleging both were negligent.
The statement of claim seeks $1.25 million in general and punitive damages. The allegations have not been tested in court.
Verge, who was born blind, says the sale of his home has left the couple sleepless and distraught over their future. He says they don’t have enough money to buy another home.
The Verges and their lawyer showed CBC Toronto numerous documents leading to the transaction, including the agreement of purchase and sale.
The couple is now renting a smaller home several kilometres away from their old neighbourhood.
“I think he needs to get his act together,” the soft spoken Verge told CBC News about Iannello and the lawsuit he filed against the realtor.
For his part, Iannello maintains he acted professionally at all times.
“I vehemently deny any allegations of negligence or wrongdoing,” he stated in an email to CBC News.
In April, the Verges moved out of their home at 42 Connaught Ave. in the Queen Street East and Greenwood Avenue area after they say it was sold against their will. They had lived there since 1995.
“He tricked us. My wife feels the same way,” Verge said.
Iannello had offered to help the Verges renew their mortgages last December.
The day after the mortgages were renewed, Iannello allegedly told the Verges they were no longer allowed to own their home.
“He wrongly advised the Plaintiffs that as they were both over 65 years of age, in law, it was not lawful for them to own real estate. This advice was knowingly false,” according to the statement of claim.
There are no laws preventing seniors from owning property in Canada.
Home was never listed on MLS
The lawsuit also alleges the home was sold for “well under its market value.”
“The Defendants failed to exercise the standard of care expected of reasonably careful and diligent real estate professionals,” the statement of claim reads.
The two-and-a-half storey semi detached house sold for $675 000.
The home, which required significant work, had been appraised at $750 000, according to an internal Royal LePage email obtained by CBC News. The email also noted two other semi-detached homes on the street had recently sold for about $880 000.
Iannello never listed the property on the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) — the online website realtors often use to attract a larger pool of potential buyers.
Instead, the statement of claim says, Iannello emailed his fellow agents at the Royal LePage Your Community Realty brokerage where he worked, to let them know the house was available.
A fellow agent found a buyer nine days later.
The Verges say they did not want to sell their home.
But, according to the statement of claim, Iannello and Royal LePage Your Community Realty “advised the Plaintiffs to accept the offer to purchase that had been presented to them and wrongfully advised that the offer contained an option in their favour to abort the transaction if they so chose. The offer did not have such a proviso.”
Iannello’s realtor licence no longer active
CBC News has learned Iannello ‘s realtor licence is no longer active.
He “is no longer working for Royal LePage,” according to spokesperson Sarah Louise Gardiner.
“As of May 27, 2019 Vince Iannello is not registered to trade real estate in Ontario,” according to Joseph Richer of RECO-The Real Estate Council of Ontario-the province’s licensing body for realtors.
Brian Kolenda, a lawyer representing Iannello, told CBC News the former realtor’s licence could soon be reinstated.
“Like all real estate professionals, Mr. Iannello can only practise real estate through a brokerage. He is currently not with a brokerage and so his registration with RECO is no longer active.”
“This change in status is an automatic process and he has not been suspended. His registration will be transferred when he rejoins a brokerage, as he intends to do” Kolenda added.
Iannello is also a chartered professional accountant.
“I am entirely confident in my suitability to act on behalf of clients in my capacity as a real estate agent as well as a chartered professional accountant. I have not engaged in any dishonest, unprofessional or negligent conduct,” he told CBC News.
According to Chartered Professional Accountants Ontario — the province’s licensing body — Iannello’s licence is in good standing.