Bayside Rentals and its owner fined for ‘unfair and deceptive’ escrow practices

Action stems from NH Real Estate Commission settlement

Bayside RentalsA civil penalty of $5,000 has been levied against Robert Wichland of Center Harbor and the company he owns, Bayside Rentals LLC, of Meredith after resolving allegations of “unfair and deceptive practices” linked to a company escrow account.

The attorney general’s office announced that the consent decree was approved June 1 in Belknap County Superior Court. It resolved allegations of he practices associated with improper withdrawals from Bayside Rentals’ escrow account.

According to the AG’s office, the terms of the settlement require Wichland and Bayside Rentals to:

  • Implement stipulated, enhanced withdrawal procedures for escrow accounts beyond any statutory requirements
  • Retain an independent monitor monthly to review escrow account withdrawals. The monitor will be required to report directly to the AG’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau annually or immediately if the decree is violated.
  • Pay the State $5,000 in civil penalties and reimburse the State $27,500.00 for the cost of the investigation.

The settlement resulted from an investigation by the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau that was initiated after a referral from the NH Real Estate Commission regarding improper withdrawals from escrow accounts, according to the AG’s office.

Over a year ago, Wichland reached a settlement with the Real Estate Commission over allegations that he unlawfully transferred escrow funds without the right to do so.

According to the agreement, Wichland replenished the account twice, providing more than $126,000 in November 2019 in time for a closing, and in January 2020 replenishing more than $56,000. But there was no consumer activity that generated any withdrawal from the account in the first place, and that would have been enough for the commission to discipline him, Wichland acknowledged.

As part of the agreement, the commission revoked, and Wichland relinquished, his real estate broker’s license, and he agreed to pay an $8,000 fine to the commission. Wichland signed the agreement on Aug. 20, 2021.

This case was investigated by Investigator Frederick Lulka and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General JR Davis, both of the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau.

In addition, Wichland was sued last fall by his former partner, Walker G. Harman Sr. of Dallas, Texas, who alleged he embezzled money for years.

Categories: Government, Law, News, Real Estate & Construction