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Ryan v. Mississippi Real Estate Commission

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 31, 2017

ALAN DAVID RYAN APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI REAL ESTATE COMMISSION APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/16/2015

         HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR., TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: PAUL E. ROGERS

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JOHN L. MAXEY II WILLIAM HOLCOMB HUSSEY ELLIOTT VAUN HALLER

         EN BANC.

          WILSON, J.

         ¶1. Alan David Ryan appeals from an order of the Hinds County Circuit Court, First Judicial District, affirming an order of the Mississippi Real Estate Commission (MREC) revoking his real estate broker's license. We affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Ryan became a licensed real estate broker in Mississippi in 1987. In 2003, he purchased a home in Woodville and executed a deed of trust on the home in favor of Concordia Bank & Trust Company. Shortly thereafter, Ryan began renting the home to Nathaniel Myers for $275 per month.

         ¶3. On or about January 1, 2004, Ryan entered into a handwritten "lease to own" agreement with Myers. The agreement provided that Myers would rent the home for $325 per month and that title to the property would be transferred to Myers by warranty deed once he had made 120 monthly rent payments. The agreement stated that Myers's rent would cover taxes, interest, and insurance on the home. Myers's cousin, Eliza Broadway, signed the agreement on Myers's behalf and as a witness. Broadway signed for Myers because Myers is mentally challenged and cannot read or write. Broadway testified that Ryan told her that she could sign the agreement for Myers and encouraged her to do so because the agreement would enable Myers to purchase the property for only $50 per month more than he was paying in ordinary rent.

         ¶4. Myers made payments as required by the contract for 120 consecutive months. His payments are documented by copies of receipts in the record. However, at the end of the ten-year lease period, Ryan refused to transfer the property by warranty deed. Broadway testified that Ryan told her that Myers needed to make four more payments before he could obtain title. Broadway made those four additional payments in January, February, March, and April 2014. She testified that she did so because she was concerned that Myers would lose his home. But Ryan still refused to transfer the property to Myers.

         ¶5. According to Broadway, Ryan then claimed that he still owed $16, 000 on his mortgage and refused to transfer the property to Myers unless she first paid him $16, 000 and reimbursed him for another $10, 000 in taxes and expenses. Broadway refused to pay Ryan any additional money. In April 2014, Ryan persuaded Broadway to sign a handwritten "amendment" to the January 1, 2004 lease-to-own agreement. This document stated that the original agreement was "void, " "no longer in force, " "cancelled, " and "not . . . binding." The document further stated, "Ryan is no longer bound to [the 2004] agreement[;] he is free and clear of all obligation to that contract." In place of the original lease-to-own agreement, Ryan had Broadway sign a new agreement that entitled Myers to live in the home rent-free for ten years but did not provide for any transfer of title to him. The new agreement stated that Myers would be responsible for utilities (as he always had been), while Ryan would continue to make payments to Concordia and pay taxes and insurance on the home.

          ¶6. Ryan maintains that he told Broadway from the outset of their discussions in 2003 that Myers's payments would not be sufficient to pay off the mortgage and that a balloon payment would be due in 2014, which Myers would have to pay in order to obtain title to the property.[1] However, at the hearing before the MREC, Ryan admitted that his claim was inconsistent with the terms of the parties' lease-to-own agreement, which did not mention a mortgage or any additional payment by Myers. Moreover, Broadway denied that Ryan ever mentioned a mortgage or any additional payment until the end of the ten-year lease term.

         ¶7. On April 30, 2014, Broadway filed a complaint against Ryan with the MREC. After investigating Broadway's allegations, the MREC filed a formal complaint against Ryan. The complaint alleged that Ryan violated Mississippi Code Annotated section 73-35-21(1), paragraphs (a) and (m) (Rev. 2012), [2] which authorize the MREC to suspend or revoke a broker's license if it finds that the broker made "any substantial misrepresentation in connection with a real estate transaction" or engaged in any other conduct that "constitutes or demonstrates bad faith, incompetency, untrustworthiness, or dishonest, fraudulent or improper dealing." The complaint also alleged that ...


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