LAO Newsroom


Sorting out the regulations with the Landlord's Self-help Centre (LSHC)

Posted on: Tuesday, December 16/08

Landlord's Self-Help Centre is the only non-profit legal clinic geared exclusively towards Ontario's small-scale landlord community. LSHC's range of services is aimed at aiding property owners, many of whom have become landlords solely to generate enough income to maintain proprietorship, and lack the necessary knowledge surrounding renting regulations.

With its website drawing 4,500 visitors each month, LSCH helps approximately 10,000 landlords each year, advancing its mandate to broaden landlord awareness. It is the only legal clinic in Ontario that operates without a staff lawyer.

Eligibility

While LSHC does not supply legal representation, it will assist landlords who meet eligibility guidelines in preparing documents, providing follow-up assistance and monitoring case progress.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • living in the same property as their tenants
  • owning no more than three units
  • providing detailed financial information related to assets and income. Discretionary guidelines may be applied in situations of financial hardship

There are no eligibility demands on the 2-hour limit casework services LSHC also offers to walk-in clients.


Issues LAO and Clinics may refer on

LSHC can consult on the following issues related to the life cycle of a residential tenancy:

  • Pre-tenancy issues
    o the health, safety, housing and maintenance standards of a rental unit
    o tenant screening, agreements
    o rental applications
  • General issues on the rights and responsibilities of the parties
  • The enforcement of landlord rights
  • Dispute resolution
  • Grounds for terminating a tenancy
  • The process for seeking termination of a tenancy
  • Post tenancy issues
    o abandoned belongings
    o the collection of money awarded
    o claims for unpaid rent,
    o damages and utility charges
  • Rental arrangements that require the occupant to share kitchen and/or bathroom facilities with the owner or owner's family (exempt from RTA).

Issues LAO and Clinics should not refer on

LSHC cannot provide assistance on any of the following:

  • mobile home parks
  • above guideline rent increases
  • head tenant situations
  • care homes
  • owner disputes with condominium boards; and
  • commercial tenancy issues such as garage/parking space rentals

Services

Casework Services
LSHC's casework services are generally provided as information, summary advice, brief services and referrals on rental related issues encompassing all of the following:

The pre-rental phase:
typically involve the rental unit, zoning, property standards, rental applications and tenant selection

Core tenancy:
matters that arise throughout the course of the tenancy, such as subletting and assignment, entering a rental unit, overcrowding or late payment of rent

Breakdown of the tenancy:
may include dispute resolution, enforcement of rights, termination notices and agreements, filing or responding to applications at the Landlord and Tenant Board, requests to review orders, and eviction by sheriff

Post tenancy issues:
removal and disposal of a tenant's belongings, small claims court and collecting money owed.

As limited resources challenge the centre's ability to serve an expansive community, LSHC's website (www.landlordselfhelp.com) is proving to be a valuable self-help and learning resource that supports the clinic's casework.

Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI)
To further its agenda in enhancing client awareness, LSHC is involved in several initiatives regarding rights and avoiding potential disputes. In addition to publishing a quarterly newsletter on issues relevant to their rental relationships, LSHC website offers proprietors

  • a series of RTA fact sheets,
  • extensive information on Second Suites,
  • information and links to the landlordconnect.ca program
  • the Information Exchange which offers a growing index of rental questions and answers and Sound Advice for Landlords, the podcast project.

LSHC was also able to address the need for landlords to better understand their obligations under the Code with the issue of the Ontario Human Rights Commission "Right at Home" consultation and report.


LSHC in the Community

Community Development
In its approach to community development, LSHC carefully considers the potential impact projects will have on the demand for clinic services. As a result, either in conjunction with or independent of other community organizations, LSHC's move towards community advancement includes

  • Second Suites: an authorized, affordable housing project that generates income for property owners.
  • The Police Project: developed resource information for frontline police officers province-wide.
  • The Parry Sound District Housing Corporation: facilitated the distribution of LSHC's educational presentation and printed material through workshops.
  • Landlordconnect.ca: an online resource joining landlords with housing workers seeking accommodation for their clients.
  • LSHC's Membership Program: to foster the growth of LSHC's community of approximately 700 members.

Current Significant Activities/New Projects

  • Advice Podcast
    The recent development and launch of its audio podcast, Sound Advice for Landlords, has enabled LSHC to better deliver basic information on common issues affecting Ontario's landlord community. The podcasts, available around the clock on the centre's website, are created in-house and include transcripts to facilitate the hearing and visually impaired. Much interest from the community to collaborate on this project has encouraged LSHC to compile a list of potential topics for future release.

  • Annual General Meeting
    LSCH uses its large-scale AGM as a platform to provide learning opportunities for members, province-wide, in addition to its yearly fiscal review.

    The 2008 Lifecycle of a Tenancy theme will include
    an information fair comprised of sponsors offering landlord centric services,
    an early bird workshop presented by MAH Investigation and Enforcement Unit,
    an "edu-tainment" presentation allowing landlords to poke fun at themselves and
    a panel presentation addressing issues that range from property standards to the disposal of a tenant's belongings.

    For those unable to attend, the AGM will be available province-wide as a webcast.

  • Web Development
    LSHC continues to develop strategies for utilizing the website to educate and interact with small-scale landlords. Future plans include the use of streamed video as a learning tool and a moderated forum to allow communication between landlords online.

  • HGTV's Income Property
    Fall 2008 will see the premier of the HGTV production Income Property, for which LSCH provided information resources and assisted in recruiting candidates for the show.



Landlord's Self-Help Centre
425 Adelaide Street West
4th Floor
Toronto, ON
M5V 3C1

Phone: 416 504-5190
Toll free: 1-800-730-3218
Fax: 416 504-1932
Email: info@landlordselfhelp.com
www.landlordselfhelp.com