Realtor collects nearly $30,000 up front from tenant, but fails to pay homeowner

MEMPHIS, Tenn. --  A sleek website, years of experience and bonafide credentials.

Those are just a few of the reasons Sandra Meabon says she hired Marlene McGhee of Eagle Lane Realty last summer, to rent out her Bartlett home when she and her family moved to South Carolina.

"So, I had talked to her several times. I visited her office. My husband and I, we sat down and talked to her."

Meabon had done her due diligence, she said.

So, she was surprised when the May rent check was behind, then bounced.

Meabon told WREG, "The check came back returned. I would call her office and try to reach out to her, they would always say she was out of town or out of the country or whatever. I never was able to get a hold of her."

Bank records show Eagle Lane eventually wired Meabon her May rent in June, and the June rent closer to the end of that month.

She said this was after she told company representatives, "I don`t want you guys sending me any more checks I want a wire transfer for certified funds."

However, Meabon says when she sent an email in July demanding a straight answer about that month's deposit date, the company responded on the same day, saying homeowners wouldn't be getting paid at all!

"I get an email stating the IRS has frozen their accounts, and so they`re not able to pay anybody."

The email, which Meabon shared with WREG, stated the company didn't know when the IRS "freeze" would be "lifted".

The email continued, "In the event, we are not able to resolve the matter prior to the August 1st rental payment collection we will notify each tenant to make payments payable to their respective owner and forward the payment directly to you as the owner."

Except here's where Meabon learned that wasn't possible either.

"And so I emailed them back and I`m like, how can I get paid from the renter, because I`ve contacted them and now I`ve found out that they paid you over $29,000 for rent for the year!"

Meabon shared records she obtained showing the tenants paid nearly $30,000 to Eagle Lane last year.

Meabon said it wasn't until she became suspicious and did some digging that she learned the renters had paid the $2300 per month rent in advance.

"I was just shocked, I was, I mean like, I was in awe because I was just like, there shouldn`t have been any reason I was ever paid late."

Frustrated, Meabon says she asked Eagle Lane to stay away from her property.

However, then she says the company sent an email canceling the contract and stating she'd have to wait 60 days, until the end of September, to get her money back.

"And I`m like no that`s unacceptable."

Meabon added, "I don`t think that I should have to rely on that, because money was already paid to them, I think it`s unethical, unprofessional."

Meabon filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Tennessee Real Estate Commission.

As of late Thursday, the BBB's profile for Eagle Lane read,  "BBB's information on this company is being updated, and no report is available at this time."

McGhee responded to the Real Estate Commission complaint providing a record of payments to Meabon and explaining the matter was due to a 2017 IRS audit.

She also said the money would be provided "expeditiously."

It's a total of just over $4,000 for July and August rent, that Meabon says she needs.

"I have bills here, I have a family here and I trusted you to manage the property and be the responsible one and you betrayed my trust ."

WREG visited Eagle Lane several days in a row. Despite information for office hours, nobody answered the door.

We also called and emailed McGhee but never got a response.

Meabon said, "I just want my money...I want my money."

She says her story serves as a warning.

"If even nothing happens, is to happen or the money is delayed, if it`s documented for the next person, I think that`s good enough."

The Internal Revenue Service won't comment on individual tax matters. However, experts say audits don't necessarily result in a levy on bank accounts. The IRS also typically provides taxpayers time to pay, as well as options for payment plans.

McGhee also has a Mississippi real estate license. She's never faced any disciplinary action there.

McGhee had one other complaint filed against her in Tennessee several years ago related to failure to maintain  insurance.

Court records though reveal McGhee has possibly faced financial difficulties in the past.

She filed for bankruptcy five times from 2008 to 2013, with three cases being dismissed for a failure to follow the payment plan.

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