Hiring a property manager or agent can be an excellent way to outsource routine operations such as finding a new tenant, collecting rents and assisting with the maintenance of the property. But one must tread very carefully to avoid crossing the line into the legal arena.
Recently the Ontario Superior Court ruled against a property manager citing that this manager provided legal services at the Landlord and Tenant Board violating the Law Society Act. The act specifically details in Sections 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7 exactly what a property manager may and may not do, including, but not limited to, the representation of the owner in court.
The Ontario Court found that Enzo Vincent Chairelli was “providing legal services” and although he was not prohibited from acting as the property manager, he is not permitted to represent clients at the Board. Chiarelli’s counsel, Joel Kary did argue that the definition of a landlord according to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act includes property managers. The Court did agree that the language is quite expansive; however there is a clear distinction that a property manager does not have the right to represent the landlord’s interest at the Landlord Tenant Board. It was found that Mr. Chairelli was in fact providing “legal services.” Therefore the Court granted the Law Society a permanent injunction against Chiarelli in representing his clients at the board but he may continue to provide property manager services.
Landlords must be cautious about using a property manager for functions that may be seen as legal representation. A property manager may be useful for numerous tasks such as selecting qualified tenants to maintaining the property, but providing any type of legal service may not be amongst them. The landlord may represent herself or have professional legal representation when it comes to any legal matter.