Paralegal James Moak has brought a court application in the Ontario Superior Court to try to stop property managers who are not licensed to practise law from providing legal services at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. Moak says he has seen many third-party managers draft documents and appear before the board, leading to problems.
“Something has to happen here because non-licensed people are thumbing their nose at the rules about who may provide legal services, and it has to stop,” he says.
Moak has a point.
The Law Society Act states that “only lawyers and paralegals licensed by the Law Society can provide legal services directly to the public, or those who fall under exemptions set out in the bylaws.”
Meanwhile, according to the province’s own guide to the Residential Tenancies Act, “either a landlord or a tenant can apply to the LTB.”
Donna Mrvaljevic, a spokeswoman for the LTB, says the board asks representatives to include their law society number if they are filing an application at the LTB on behalf of someone but that the absence of that number does not necessarily mean they do not have standing before the board. The definition of a landlord can be broad, she says.
At this point, she says, there is no tracking of those who do not provide a law society number when they file an application on behalf of someone else.
Therefore, it’s difficult to determine what the extent of the issue might be, but a lack of data collected certainly points to what could be am emerging issue.
The real test of the depth of the problem would be litigation that arises from these matters, and Moak has raised a valid alarm about what could potentially transpire as a result.