Lawyers and paralegals in Ontario must be licensed by the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) to be allowed to represent parties and act on their behalf before Ontario’s courts, tribunals and boards, including the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). However, the rules also allow some unlicensed people to be representatives.
LSO rules apply to lawyers and paralegals; they do not apply to the landlords and tenants who are parties to an LTB application. You can choose to represent yourself and you don’t need to be licensed.
A party may be self-represented and appear before the LTB and present their case. The LTB’s rules are interpreted and applied to allow parties to participate effectively in the process, whether or not they are represented by a lawyer or paralegal.
A party may also choose to appoint another person to represent them in LTB proceedings.
The representative may be:
A person who is not licensed, whose license is suspended or who is not in an exempted category is not allowed to act as a representative for LTB proceedings.
A licensed representative is a lawyer or paralegal licensed by the LSO. A licensed representative must be in good standing with the LSO. LTB adjudicators and mediators may ask whether a representative is licensed. If the representative says that they are licensed, they may be asked to provide their licensing number. There are Rules of Conduct for lawyers and for paralegals established by the LSO.
An unlicensed person may represent a party in proceedings before the LTB if that person falls within the licensing exemptions established by the LSO.
If your representative is not licensed, you must give them written permission to be your representative and act on your behalf. This written permission, also known as an agency authorization, must be signed by you and it must be provided to the LTB before, or at your hearing or mediation.
If the adjudicator believes that an agency authorization is required and a representative doesn’t have one, they may not be allowed to act on your behalf before the LTB, and this could delay resolving the application.
If the representative says that they don’t need a license, they may be asked to explain why they think that they don’t need a license and identify the LSO exemption category to which they belong.
Representatives Exempt from Licensing
The LSO exemptions permit the following unlicensed persons to act as a representative:
A complete list of approved exemptions is on the LSO's website.
Unlicensed People who Cannot Act as a Representative
A person who is not licensed and who is not exempt from licensing requirements is not permitted to act as a representative in an LTB proceeding. This would include:
A representative is responsible for all communications with the LTB and the other parties and for preparing and presenting the client's case. Where a party is represented, the LTB will communicate with the party through their representative.
Both licensed and unlicensed representatives are expected to know and follow the LTB’s rules and procedures and any directions or orders made during proceedings.
The LTB may exclude a representative from a hearing to prevent an abuse of process (for example, because the representative has a conflict of interest) or, in the case of unlicensed representatives, where the LTB finds the representative is not competent.
A support person, such as a family member or friend, may attend a hearing or mediation with a party or witness to help the person participate in the proceeding, communicate with the LTB and make decisions. They may sit with the party during the hearing or mediation. A support person is not considered a representative, so long as they do not make submissions on the party's behalf.
For more information about representation, see the Practice Direction on Representation before the Landlord and Tenant Board.