The Responsible Housing Provider — Who can appear at the Landlord and Tenant Board?

March 28th, 2013 by Celia Chandler

A recent decision of the Superior Court of Justice may have an impact on housing providers who use the services of property managers.

In The Law Society of Upper Canada v. Enzo Vincent Chiarelli, Mr. Justice Goldstein ruled that Chiarelli can no longer appear on behalf of his clients before the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) because he is not licensed under the Law Society Act to provide legal services.

Chiarelli is a property manager who has provided a range of landlord services to his clients including conducting LTB hearings.  Chiarelli was represented in this matter by Joseph Kary, a long‑time tenant advocate, well known in the non‑profit and co‑op housing context.  Kary argued among other things that Chiarelli should be exempt from the law society’s licensing requirements because he is the personal representative of the landlord and therefore falls within the definition of the landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act.

The court agreed that caselaw demonstrates that the definition of landlord is a broad one, but distinguished between the landlord and the right to appear at the LTB:   “it would be a real stretch to say that [the cases] regulate who may appear in front of a tribunal as a paid representative.”  Being a landlord’s agent does not extend to conducting hearings, described by the court as “quintessentially legal or paralegal work.”

Co‑ops need to consider the impact of this, as they too will soon be frequenting the LTB under the eviction law reform bill, Bill 14, now in 2nd reading at Queen’s Park, reported on earlier in this blog.   One of the touted advantages that Bill 14 is intended to bring more flexibility regarding who can appear on behalf of co‑ops to present the case for eviction – for co‑ops with staff with the skills to conduct a hearing, it would certainly be a good way to reduce legal bills.  For those co‑ops managed by property managers, however, this court decision may limit that flexibility.  And while this decision applies to only Chiarelli, housing providers, including co‑ops in the post ‑Bill 14 world, should be aware that the LTB may review more carefully who has the right to conduct a hearing on their behalf.

Filed in: Housing, Litigation

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