Paid Representatives Cannot Be Personal Representatives At The Ontario Landlord Tenant Board

July 26th, 2013 by

This blog is written by our law summer student, Michelle Stephenson

A permanent injunction has been issued against a respondent, Chiarelli, who is in the property management business and had been regularly appearing before the landlord tenant board as a “personal representative” for various landlords. He was found, however, to be acting not really as a personal representative, but rather as a paid legal representative, without the required licensing and thus in violation of the Law Society Act.

While he argued that he was exempt from the licensing requirement under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (the ‘Act’), as he fit under the term “landlord”, the Court found that “personal representative” in the context of the Act should be given its ordinary meaning, and not extend to include paid representatives.

In response to Chiarelli’s argument that he did not need to be a lawyer or paralegal as he was a personal representative, Goldstein J. stated that, “appearing before an administrative tribunal as a paid representative to make submissions, examine witnesses and cross-examine witness is quintessentially legal or paralegal work.”

The Residential Tenancies Act would not have been able to override the Law Society Act’s prohibition on anyone other than a licensee practicing law in Ontario. Regardless, the court found that even the Residential Tenancies Act had clearly contemplated that representation be a licensed lawyer or paralegal, except in the case of unpaid family and friends. A member of the Landlord Tenant board had reasoned that if the respondent’s argument was correct, then any paid person could appear before the board without meeting the licensing requirements, and the court upheld her decision that he not be allowed to continue.

A permanent injunction was found to be in the public interest to prevent the respondent’s unauthorized practice of law. Furthermore, the judge reasoned that it was not inequitable in any way, as the landlord was still able to retain a legal professional himself should he require representation.

Link to full decision, The Law Society of Upper Canada v. Chiarelli

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