Open Letter to a Landlord

Dear Landlord,

Throughout history and in our popular culture the landlord is cast as the bad guy. It makes sense on some level because shelter is something that we all need and the power imbalance between a tenant and a landlord makes for a good story.

In reality, this power imbalance is reflected in the Ontario Landlord Tenants Act and it may be that the culture of the administration of justice is similarly skewed. What if “a higher standard were applied to a landlord’s application that to a tenant’s?”

A company with 250 tenants may not be under the same pressure to remove a troublesome tenant as a Mom and Pop does. For the Mom and Pop, losing $750.00 per month can make a great deal of difference. A late payment from a good tenant is rightfully overlooked, but if you have a late payment from a bad tenant, it is time to call a Paralegal.

As a matter of fact, you might want to have a Paralegal on your speed dial. There is an incentive to act quickly for issues around the Landlord Tenant Act. There is a one month rental cycle that you need to be aware of in particular the filing dates in effect depending on your lease agreement dates.

You don’t need a paralegal to file forms but if you miss a date or file incorrectly you face dismissal of your action or at least you will have to restart. In most cases, a paralegal can relieve you from adding the issue to your already busy day.

If you choose to get representation, there has been a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision that should guide you in your choice. It has been determined that if you pay someone to represent you at the Landlord Tribunal, they must be licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada. You should forget about hiring your brother-in-law or that really smart woman down the street. The representative for the Landlord must have a “personal” interest in the property or be licensed by the Law Society.

The Ontario Court of Appeal decision is that the representative must be able to “establish” that personal relationship or is working against the spirit of that decision.

If anyone offers to represent you who is not licensed and bills not for being your agent in court, but charges for things like a “ride” to the court, there would be not be a legal distinction and your representative in violation of the Act.

There is an exception where an “in-house employee” may represent a landlord so long as that employee is only working for a single landlord. So even if you know of a really smart, experienced employee of MEGA-HOUSING CORP, that represents his orher employer “all the time”, that person may not represent you, according to the recent decision.

In a nutshell, the smart landlord has a licensed paralegal on speed dial.

Thank you.

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