by Sharon Harris
Under current legislation, the residential landlord faces particular challenges when seeking relief from problematic tenancies. Aside from the specific limitations of the legislation, the landlord needs to mitigate his loses, and the entire termination and eviction process can be incredibly expensive, considering that the bare minimum for relief is 45 days.
Legal costs, including the fee for a Lawyer, can run very high, and are virtually debilitating for the smaller landlord. Some choose to commence legal action themselves and run the risk of making a technical error either on the notice served or in the proper manner of service. In the case of the latter, the notice must be re-served, adding up to an additional 30 days to the process and upping the expenses.
Furthermore, landlord/tenant laws cover a very specific and involved area. Not every lawyer has interest or expertise in this specialty, and many prefer to avoid it altogether.
Recent years have borne witness to the evolution of the paralegal service to meet the needs of property managers. Spurred by the demand for a specialized yet affordable service, the paralegal does not endeavour to replace lawyers, but often works in conjunction with the legal professionals and will call upon their expertise when the case demands more in-depth treatment.
Assuming that the landlord's need for relief stems from a genuine source, due to delinquent rent, rent arrears, or various breaches of obligations under the various Tenant Protection Acts, the service is practical and useful. Other reasons to bring in such a service might include relief from destructive or dangerous tenant. In satisfying all of these legitimate purposes, a landlord may elect to call upon Steelcase Services, a company specializing in such delicate situations.
Paralegal outfits can handle the preparation and servicing of all documents related to the action as well as appearing before the Tribunal as an agent for the Landlord. The landlord benefits from the professional method of handling such matters in many ways, not the least of which is the fee structure.
The approximate fee scale, as published at the time of writing, is concisely broken down to allow billing only to the extent that the services are required.
For example, such activities as opening a file in the Tribunal, hearing before the Adjudicator, or obtaining a judgment/order, each bear individual fees. This effectively permits the action to be withdrawn or settled at any point with the costs to-date assessed accordingly. This is comparatively low when weighed with standard legal costs.
The modest sum paid results in crisp, clear original documents, professional representation, and a high success rate.
Steelcase Services, just one of an increasing number of similar firms, has been providing specialized paralegal services to a growing number of landlords, property management companies in the GTA.
Appearances before the same Tribunal are common. therefore, Steelcase Services' spokesperson Sharon Harris indicates that paralegal companies should be selective regarding the landlords and property management companies they represent. “When tenants attend and they have just cause for withholding rent, there is no point in trying to represent a landlord who has misrepresented his own case to us”
Property management experience and additional training by lawyers has well qualified Sharon in this field. “Some tenants are very knowledgeable,” she observes and adds, “While it is, of course, important for both parties to be familiar with the law and know their rights within the law, landlords must be able to protect themselves and their properties under those same laws.”
With these high standards and reasonable rates, it is easy to understand why the concept of the paralegal service is rapidly gaining popularity. How does a property manager spell relief?
Why pay more for evictions ?