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”

Workplace Bullying/Harassment: What Is It and What Can You Do?

 Introduction

If you are reading this, you might be wondering if what you are experiencing can be considered “workplace harassment” or “workplace bullying”. Most of us heard about it discussed in the news, reports of people getting charged with harassing somebody they worked with, or heard others complain about getting “harassed” at work. Maybe you are experiencing something at work or in your workplace that is bothering you, worrying you or creating a major sense of tension. First, let’s review what workplace harassment is.

What Workplace Harassment Is and What It Is Not Read more… “Workplace Bullying/Harassment: What Is It and What Can You Do?”

The Art of Written Communications with the Court

or
Why you want to hire Browne and Associates Legal Services Prof Corp to draft your claim/defence/motion!

Pleadings are often mentioned in legal proceedings, mostly giving rise to a perplexed look from the individuals involved in pursuing the legal action. What is a “pleading” and why does it matter? Do you want one, and what type of pleading works best? What do you want to say to the Court and how do you say it? Read more… “The Art of Written Communications with the Court”

Why use Paralegals? Should Paralegals be in Family Law?

At the present time, paralegals are not involved in Family Law matters.  However, an ongoing crisis has been noted in Family Law,  approximately 60% of people in family court have no legal representation. At their most vulnerable, the legal system is failing the average person in Ontario.  In response, the Attorney General and the Law Society of Upper Canada sought assistance from Madame Justice Bonkalo in considering whether persons other than Lawyers, i.e. Paralegals, should be providing legal services in Family Law.  Justice Bonkalo’s report has caused a stir in the legal community, consisting of 21 recommendations including the recommendation that Paralegals, properly trained, be permitted to provide some services in Family Law.  A link to that report is here.

Attached is a brief video clip from Bruce Parson’s recent appearance on Get Legal Milton Cogeco, where I discussed the issue with gracious host Samantha Glass, special nod to technical wizard Anthony Luongo. He did what he could to make me look good, no easy task!

Choosing the Advocate that is Right for You

How Do You Find Information About a Lawyer or Paralegal?

So, you decided to hire a legal professional.  This is a daunting task.

First, check to see that your legal professional is listed in the Law Society of Ontario directory.  If their name is in the directory, they are licensed with the Law Society of Ontario and are able to provide you with legal advice or legal services.  If their name is not listed, they are not licensed and likely not authorized to provide the services you are seeking.

Second, check the website of your prospective choice.  How much information does the website provide?  Is there a contact number?  Are there office hours?  Does there appear to be a physical office?  Does the prospective hire provide legal advice or legal services in the areas of law that you need help with?  Their website should state clearly what types of issues they could help you with.

While it is not necessary to have a physical office, the Law Society of Ontario does have specific requirements for those who choose to work from home or in shared office space.  Short term or hourly rental spaces, such as Regus or Zemler “office in a box” boardrooms, do support occasional meetings for a legal professional meeting with you in your community.  However, such space may not be appropriate for a long-term relationship.  Legal professionals are obligated to maintain strict confidentiality of your records (e.g. a locked filing cabinet, password-protected clouds), as well as to provide a consultation area that is free of distractions.  It should be a space that nobody else regularly enters or has a reason for being in.  Further, not having a physical office limits the way you can interact, drop off documents or meet with your professional in an emergency or urgent situation.

Your prospects website should provide the areas of law that they work in.  If your prospect’s website simply states, “we handle matters in small claims court“, it is not enough.  What kinds of small claims matters can you bring to this person/firm?  Does your prospect offer help with employment situations?  Is the person familiar with construction contracts, such as a ‘renovations gone bad’ type of case?  How about your prospect’s experience in filing claims against an insurance company, such as when your house insurer declines your claim after your roof blew off?

Meeting with Your Legal Professional

Third, how does your prospect present themselves?  Are they boastful of early achievements?  Do they compare themselves with other legal professionals?  Are they dressed so they could hurry off to the nearest night club after meeting with you?  Do they look like they just finished up a paint job at their house and are interrupting that job to meet with you?  Are they playing with their smart phones at any time in your consultation, or do you notice their computer screen opened up to Facebook or Twitter?

Fourth, what is the state of their meeting space?  Many legal professionals meet in private boardrooms or empty offices in their physical location to ensure that your comfort and confidentiality is held in top regard.  Their own offices may be filled with paperwork to the brim, which is not an ideal client meeting space.  Your meeting with your prospective professional should not include the presence of open files, documents, or even closed files piled up on the desk or board table.  If space is an issue, your professional should place these files behind them on the floor or on a shelf outside your view before meeting with you.

Fifth, how does your prospective professional communicate with you?  At the Initial Meeting, they should mostly listen and steer the discussion with questions to help understand the legal issues you are bringing them.  The type of communication style one client prefers may differ from the next.  However, in most cases, your prospective representative should be knowledgeable about your issue, non-judgmental and be willing to explore a number of options that can help you arrive at the right place.

The Importance of Trust, Professionalism and Being Upfront

It is important to identify your goals with your legal representative when you meet with them.  While we are trained for court and often love to litigate, taking everything to court is not always in the client’s best interest.  A good legal professional would ensure that going to court is a last resort, while at the same time securing a strong legal settlement that may not be perfect but would meet your needs.

Your legal professional should be able to discuss fees in a straight forward manner.  There are different ways that fees are charged to clients at Browne & Associates Legal Services Professional Corporation.  There are hourly fees, which are usually limited to research and possibly a limited scope retainer.  A limited scope retainer is when you need help with some of your case, but not all of it, such as drafting a claim.

There are also block fees where each step in a legal proceeding has a flat rate, as well as a monthly retainer fees for ongoing actions that a client may not be able to fund upfront.  Many times, your legal professional will ask for a certain amount of money upfront.  If they do, this money must by law be placed into a trust account and not disbursed to themselves until: (a) work is partially or fully completed; and (b) invoiced.

It is important that you have a trust level with your lawyer or paralegal.  You should be comfortable telling him or her anything that you feel is relevant to the case you are bringing to them.  You should also feel that you are not being judged.  Many people involved in traffic or criminal cases feel badly, but a professional’s job is not to judge you.  Their job is to assist you in resolving the issue.

Most important, once that comfort level is established you should provide all the information they need, or their ability to help you may be limited.  Please see our companion article on your Initial Consultation.

 

Finding the Right Kind of Legal Assistance

There are many times in our lives when we experience problems that are beyond our grasp, where we need to speak to a professional.

If your car breaks down, you want a mechanic.  If furnace dies, you need an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technician.  If you develop health issues, you turn to your Family Doctor.  In the legal system, you have a broader choice of legal representation for many matters in Ontario.  In Ontario, you can choose to hire a Lawyer or a Paralegal.

As technology advances and we become more and more specialized in what we do, it becomes easier for each of us to understand the value of knowledge.  Like your auto mechanic, your family doctor or your HVAC technician, lawyers and paralegals offer specialized knowledge that can help you resolve your legal problems.  Browne & Associates Legal Services Professional Corporation is owned and operated by experienced paralegals that have practiced in the province of Ontario.  We also connect to lawyers that may be able to assist you in resolving legal issues that as paralegals, we cannot become directly involved in.

Read more… “Finding the Right Kind of Legal Assistance”

Insurance to be Checked in Real Time

In the past, the Ministry of Transportation has relied on proof of insurance, some stubs and information and they assumed you had valid insurance. Still, the number of suspected drivers without insurance has been on the rise and in an initiative with the Insurance Bureau of Canada the Ministry of Transportation is bringing the process of checking automobile insurance into the modern era.

The Uninsured Vehicles Project (UVP) began on November 29th , 2010 and now allows the Ministry to check your insurance electronically using the Vehicle Insurance Number (VIN) to make sure that the vehicle is registered with mandatory automobile insurance. Those drivers who are unable to show valid auto insurance will not be allowed to renew plates.

Perhaps just as importantly, the UVP is allowing the government to send notices to those drivers who have issues preemptively. Now, 120 days before your license renewal, the Ministry will send out what they are calling a 120 day letter which informs you that you have either insurance or VIN issues showing on their system. If you have no issues, you are not sent this letter although not receiving the letter is not a guarantee that everything is valid on the day you renew your plates. Individuals are still responsible for ensuring they are in compliance with Ministry requirements.

To renew your plates, all of the same information is still required – including proof of insurance.

The Ministry Announcement can be found here: http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2010/11/no-insurance-no-plate-renewal-1.html

P.S. – a conviction for No Insurance carries a minimum fine of $5,000.00 (plus substantial surcharges, equalling to 25% of the fine +$5.00 for court charges (6255 minimum) ) for a first offence and can carry a license suspension. We strongly recommend any individual charged with operate motor vehicle – no insurance or, permit drive motor vehicle – no insurance obtain legal advice at their earliest opportunity.

Editor’s Note: This article was first posted in 2010, shortly after this program began. It is reposted here, on our new site for your information.

Tougher Sanctions for Suspended Drivers

Car getting towed away due to suspended driver
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in 2010 regarding changes to the law regarding Drive Suspend. Since knowledge of all these things are still relevant and not known necessarily that well publicly, we’re re-posting it here from the old site.

As of December 1st 2010, the Ontario Government and the Ministry of Transportation have implemented another part of the Road Safety Act, 2009. This part of the Road Safety Act, has to do with the impounding of vehicles which are being driven by suspended drivers.

In short this portion of the Act gives the officer the authority to impound the vehicle on the spot if the driver is:
 Driving over the legal limit (.08) or failing and/or refusing to provide a breath sample
 Unpaid Family Support- Highway Traffic Act Suspension
 Driving without an Ignition Interlock Device when one is required
 Or if your license is suspended for Highway Traffic Offenses such as:
 Demerit Point suspensions
 Careless Driving, Stunt Driving, Driving while suspended,

A notable exception is that defaulted fines resulting in suspension will not lead to the impounding of a vehicle.

The impounding lasts for 7 days and is not appealable, This is part of the government’s policy that you are responsible for knowing the status of who is driving the car along with promoting their phone and internet ways to check the status of a driver’s license. The exception to this is that if a Police Officer may direct the release of the impounded motor vehicle before the 7 days are up if they believe the car was stolen at the time of it being driven.

In all cases, the owner of the car is responsible for paying the fees related the towing and storing of the car before it is released to them. The owner may attempt to recover the costs from the Driver via a court action if the Driver is not willing to pay for this. Exact methods of how impounding are handled for these vary on location as they are the responsibility of the police and not the Ministry of Transportation for 7 day suspensions (including Stunt Driving suspensions).

Large Commercial Vehicles (Those weighing over 3000 kilograms) are offered an alternative program. This alternative says that as long as the driver has not been suspended for 100 or more days, the vehicle will not be impounded, for Highway Traffic Act suspensions. This does not apply for suspensions of over 100 days, having a blood alcohol level of over .08 or lacking an ignition interlock device when one is required. In any circumstance the driver still faces all penalties for Driving Under Suspension and any other applicable charges and is not allowed to continue the trip.

The reasoning given for this is that 100 days is enough for business’ to conduct quarterly license reviews, the higher costs of towing a larger vehicle (estimated at 1200 to 1500 by the ministry), the number of passengers a bus may have, the issue with having trailers stranded and needing a new driver and vehicle to continue the trip. For those who do not meet the alternative programs restrictions, the vehicle will be impounded.

The Ministry of Transportation announcement can be read at http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2010/12/end-of-the-road-for-suspended-and-impaired-drivers.html.

P.S. A conviction for Driving Under Suspension carries a minimum fine of $1000 (in addition to substantial surcharges) for a first offence, and up to 6 months in jail. We strongly recommend any individual charged with Driving while Driver’s Licence Suspended, seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity and not drive any more!

P.P.S. To find out if a person is suspended or not the MTO provides some tools:
– First you can call 1-900-565-6555 with the driver’s license and check. A charge of $2.50 will be added to your phone bill.
– Second you can check online at the MTO Website at $2.00 payable by credit card
– Last you can order a driver’s abstract either online or at a service ontario centre, though that option is normally only available for yourself. Read more about Drive Abstracts on the MTO Site here.

The Magic G

Editor’s Note: This article was written a couple years ago to discuss the value of a G license as many people don’t realize the value it has compared to a G2. This still holds true today, and it required minimal updating for reposting. I hope you enjoy!

One of the most underrated things as far as driving goes in Ontario is that of a G license. Many people get their G1 or G2 and are happy driving on those not knowing the costs they cause themselves inadvertently. What can G do for you? Let’s see…

Lower Insurance Cost

Your insurance cost doesn’t start lowering in any real amount until you’ve got your G license. The G license tells the insurance company that you’ve complete road tests and are judged fully capable on the road so they start counting your safety rating from that time.
Higher Demerit Point Cap

No one wants to get demerit points and for the most part people aren’t given many tickets. Regardless though at some point everyone can bend a rule in an officer’s opinion or speeding or have your tires still moving at a stop sign… any of them get you some points.

On a G2 license you have a cap of 9 points, a letter from the ministry with any points and a meeting with the ministry at 6 points where you can be suspended. Compared to a G license – where you get a letter at 6, a meeting at 9 and a cap of 15 when you’re off the road.

Not only that, but with a G2 license, any ticket with 4 or more demerit points gets you an automatic suspension! No questions asked; it’s a 30 day suspension that arrives in the mail after you pay the ticket, compliments of the MTO. Any G2 driver should always consult Browne & Associates Legal Services before paying a ticket.

Lifting of G2 License Restrictions

The G2 License has numerous restrictions on it to help make Ontario’s roads safer and to let drivers learn with lesser risk scenarios (or so goes the theory). Upon getting your G you are no longer required to follow these. The restrictions are:

  • Absolutely no alcohol in system – regardless of age
  • If you are 19 years old or younger, you no longer have restricted passengers between midnight and 5 a.m.

All of these are reasons to get your G license as quickly as you can – and we encourage you to help yourself, GET YOUR G.

Browne & Associates Legal Services Professional Corporation