Welcome Home to Browne & Associates Legal Services

  • In front of the St. Catharines Courthouse

At Browne and Associates Legal Services our Paralegals pay close attention to your legal issues and desired outcomes and we focus our years of legal and practical experience on resolving your matter(s).  We offer a broad range of paralegal services to residents of our practice areas. 

You need results.  We deliver!

We begin by listening and understanding what you wish to achieve. Then we craft our advice to your needs and your fact scenario.  For you, results matter and the same is true for us.  Results for us are happy clients.  Or maybe we should say satisfied clients who have achieved their anticipated results.  Because we take on the matters that matter to you, results matter.

With our varied background and experience, we provide many avenues and ideas to reach your destination.  Call us today for a consultation, and learn your rights and options now! Read more… “Welcome Home to Browne & Associates Legal Services”

Evictions Under Bill 184: Are They Really Easier?

What is Bill 184?

Bill 184 is comprised of at least in part changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, the law governing relations between residential landlords and tenants in Ontario.  Prior to the Bill’s passage, many tenant groups protested and warned us all that thousands of tenants will be evicted without a hearing.  In fact, nothing much at that end has changed, other than allowing landlords and tenants to make private arrangements outside the Landlord and Tenant Board that can be enforced in the same way as if they attended mediation on Hearing Day.

Can a Tenant be Evicted Without a Hearing Under this New Law?

First, we need to discuss facts about the existing Act before Bill 184 came into place.  As someone that has represented hundreds of parties before the Board over the years of its existence, the Act always had an option for what is called an ‘ex parte’ hearing.  The Landlord and Tenant go to a Hearing but, before the hearing they sort out their issues with the help of a Mediator.  After they arrive at an agreement, they attend before the Adjudicator and ask for a consent order.  A Consent Order is what makes the agreement enforceable and less likely to be overturned on review. Read more… “Evictions Under Bill 184: Are They Really Easier?”

Navigating the Complexities of Landlord and Tenant Law in the Times of Pandemic

Introduction

The Province of Ontario called a state of emergency on March 16, 2020.  A staged lock-down of the Province’s normal activities of business was called to contain the COVID-19 virus.  Among other tribunals, the Landlord and Tenant Board closed its doors to many of its services.  However, the Board still conducts telephone hearings and accepts new Applications.

The enforcement of evictions through the Sheriff is suspended.  The activities of the Board appear to be ground to a halt.

How This Impacts Landlords

As soon as the pandemic began and our economy began to shut down, many tenants across Ontario lost their jobs.  It was evident that many would be unable to pay their rent in April 2020.  A tenant movement across the province encouraged people to “keep their rent”, while our economy shut down.   Many small landlords have called our office for help. Read more… “Navigating the Complexities of Landlord and Tenant Law in the Times of Pandemic”

How We Are Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 F A Q

1.  What protective measures is Browne & Associates Legal Services taking during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

We are concerned about our clients, suppliers and those in our office by ensuring that we minimize any dangers during the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic.  By keeping our offices clean, wiping down all meeting areas with disinfectant before and between any project will ensure all staff and associates work in a clean environment.   Only one or two associates will be in the office at any time to emphasize social distancing.

Each one of us is minimizing our own exposure and potential exposure to COVID-19.  If any one of us is feeling sick, we will work from home using telephone, Internet or video technology to communicate.  We will self-isolate if we become exposed to somebody else who is sick.  We are also avoiding any conferences, large gatherings of people or other public events where there is a potential for spread. Read more… “How We Are Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis”

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Landlord in Ontario

Landlording as a Business

Many prospective investors have asked me if it was worth their while becoming a Landlord.  They read the horror stories in the newspapers about tenants that overstay their ‘visit’ for months at a time.  These tenants squat while their landlords continue to pay the bills.  They read about tenants that have left their newly renovated properties in such a wreck that one wonders how they can find good tenants that would care for their property as they have done.

Prospective landlords also want to know how much to ask for in rent, as they do not want to overcharge or lose money.  Asking for too little over the long term might seem worth it to attract tenants, but over time expenses might absorb most or all of it.  Asking too much might not attract many tenants, or it might put one at risk of tenants falling behind in payments.  Striking that fine balance is a business decision all landlords have to make.  It is important to know that most tenants are decent people who will treat your property with care and pay their rent on time. Read more… “Pros and Cons of Becoming a Landlord in Ontario”

TENANTS – A NEW EVICTION TRICK BY SOME LANDLORDS

Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Our office receives calls from Tenants who are bewildered after getting an eviction notice when they never got a Hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board.  They ask me if it is legal to do this.  My answer to this as always, is “it depends”.

I will often ask the Tenant if anything had taken place between them and the Landlord recently.  Was there a Board appearance, a mediation, or did they sign an agreement to terminate (N11)?  We have been told by Tenants that their Landlords put them to duress to sign a form to say they will move by a particular date.  Many Tenants are not aware of what these Forms are.  When I ask them if they signed any forms, they often say, “Yes, I did.  Did I do something wrong?”.

No.  As a Tenant, you did nothing wrong.   You probably did not know what you were signing.  Many Tenants have not planned to move from their rental units before their Landlords came in to get them to sign.  One concern is if the Tenant does not in fact leave by the date set in the form, they can be evicted.  There will be no Hearing.  There will be no opportunity to present their side of the story to the Board. Read more… “TENANTS – A NEW EVICTION TRICK BY SOME LANDLORDS”

Avoid Costly Errors at Your Next Eviction Hearing

What Often Happens at Hearings

I sit as an observer at the Landlord and Tenant Board.  I often do this when waiting for one of our firm’s cases.

Today’s hearing blocks were for matters of arrears of rent.  On rent arrears days, landlords often try to do ‘self-help’.  That is, I see many of them struggle, getting frustrated with the process and hurriedly filling out forms.  Despite their best efforts, the hearing officer often turns them away.  Many things can go wrong in an application process.  When this happens, a landlord can be denied their eviction and lose even more money.

Most adjudicators are well meaning and attempt to ensure that parties before them get heard.  Today, the adjudicator at the Board spent most of his time explaining to the landlords what they did wrong.  He advised them how to correct it and why it is necessary to do things in a certain way.  I found him to be kind and gentle in his approach, although those appearing before him likely felt on edge.  His main point is that some errors can be fatal. Read more… “Avoid Costly Errors at Your Next Eviction Hearing”

Landlord and Tenant Matters (General)

What is the Landlord and Tenant Board

Like many of Ontario’s administrative tribunals, the Landlord and Tenant Board has a direct impact on the lives of many people.  Its functions include arbitrating disputes between landlords and tenants, governing over rent increases and enforcing the Residential Tenancies Act.  This Board stands out more than most of other tribunals because of the number of people it impacts.

For tenants, it is about where they live, how safe and habitable their housing is and how affordable the rent.  For landlords, it’s often a major investment, a supplement to their retirement income and a part-time job.  However, when disputes arise, this affects everything, from having to spend money, hire a legal representative or be forced to understand a maze of rules and regulations to follow.  A crucial factor in dealing comfortably with these realities for both sides involves obtaining expert advice. Read more… “Landlord and Tenant Matters (General)”

The New Standard Lease for Residential Tenancies- Additional Terms for use

How the Standard Lease came to be….

The New Standard Lease, a solution in search of a problem, came into being April 30, 2018.   For most folk in the industry, Landlords and Tenants alike, this was not an issue. It wasn’t a pressing issue, it just wasn’t an issue at all. Industry players and pundits alike were take aback by the introduction of a new industry wide lease. That is because any lease or tenancy is, and
was, subject to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and the rules therein. In practical terms,  every tenancy within the RTA was subject to the same rules, regardless of the language in the individual lease agreements. The RTA is the one ring that rules them all.

So why a new lease? Are there any benefits to this new lease? Doesn’t it resolve issues that weren’t previously addressed? And, most importantly, how can Landlords and Tenants use it to assist themselves? Read more… “The New Standard Lease for Residential Tenancies- Additional Terms for use”

Resource – Sample Additional Clauses for the Standard Lease for Landlords and Tenants

Sample Additional Terms for potential use in Section 15 of the Standard Lease,  Residential Landlord and Tenant issues in Ontario

PLEASE NOTE – legal disclaimer, these are sample clauses designed to demonstrate the types of clauses that can be used to upgrade and personalize the Standard Lease.  The sample clauses do not and are not meant to capture every possibility or to be an exhaustive list. The sample clauses are not intended for use by any party and not designed for any particular situation or any landlord or tenant.   No liability can attach to the author for any use of these clauses.

Read more… “Resource – Sample Additional Clauses for the Standard Lease for Landlords and Tenants”