Hoarding Disorder and Fires

Toronto Councillor, Josh Matlow, recently announced plans to ask the Fire Chief to prepare a presentation on the transparency of fire inspections – but the issue is that the fire department is bound by legislation to handle all such information a certain way.

For $5 the freedom of information is available to anyone to access from the fire department – including landlords – and should one still not be satisfied upon realizing pertinent information has been blackened out – one still has a right to appeal. Once all those appeal avenues have been exhausted, one could then perhaps follow up with the councilor.

This has all suddenly come up as a hot-button issue because of the recent London fire that killed 79 people in a lower income building. The fear was/is that it could happen here, so politicians like Toronto’s Matlow are at least trying to highlight the issue with preemptive strikes. Those fires, however, had to do with combustible external panels, an issue not so far having been raised here.

What they really need to keep focused on to ensure the reduced possibilities of fires, is to clamp down on tenants with excessive amounts of clutter inside their units many of whom suffer from hoarding disorder a form of obsessive compulsive mental illness.

How quickly everyone seems to have forgotten the lessons supposedly learned from the 2003 Toronto Community Housing Corporation fire at 200 Wellesley St when 1200 residents were displaced and started in a unit occupied by a resident suffering from the disorder.

“Clear means of egress”

So what’s a landlord to do? Ensure a clear means of egress to each exit inside the unit at the cost of possibly lives? The problem is you have a number of variables that interchange here from human rights to mental health as landlords have a duty to accommodate to undo hardship. In the end, the Landlord and Tenant Board reluctantly issues eviction orders in these cases and not without first giving the tenant many opportunities to declutter.

What can be done?

Prior to issuing an eviction notice first take steps to accommodate the tenant by working with those afflicted residents to declutter their homes through contacting third-party agencies, such as mental health and social workers, including “Purgers” who help with the decluttering process. An entrepreneurial Hamilton businesswoman I met recently actually started a business to help hoarders declutter and purge so there seems to be a growing demand.

Transparency and access to freedom of information will not stop fires from occurring in residential complexes – preventative measures will.

“From my experience but for landlords, tenants, paralegals and third party agencies continuing to work together, we may well be on our way to a crisis, especially when you add the growing bed bug epidemic into the equation. Will we wait until another Wellesley Street happens again before we act? I sure hope not.

Lisa Barder

Canadian Family Courts may include Paralegals


It was just reported in the Toronto Star that both lawyers and paralegals may be allowed to represent clients embroiled in the family courts system.

While some argue it’s too complex for a paralegal’s scope, others however disagree, including this one.

Paralegals are already allowed to represent in certain criminal cases and so it’s certainly not a stretch to think paralegals could represent in family court by any means.

At any rate, former Ontario court Chief Justice, Annemarie Bonkalo, thinks we can. The former Chief Justice recommends that specialized, trained paralegals be allowed to provide family court representation through special licensing.

And she certainly knows it will be controversial, as currently paralegals are prohibited from doing so.

“There are few subjects that cause more controversy within the family justice community than the provision of legal services by paralegals,” Bonkalo states.

The public has until May 15 2017 to offer input as to their thoughts on this and for changes needing made to streamline our backed up family court system.

A decision by government on her recommendations is expected by fall. Stay tuned!

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Lisa Barder, Landlord Paralegal

Landlord Paralegal Lisa Barder

Are you a Landlord having difficulties collecting rent from your tenant or is your tenant committing an illegal act on your property?  Do you have questions about terminating a tenancy and eviction or are you dealing with a property standards violation. Contact Landlord Paralegal for free consultation with Lisa Barder @ (289) 788-4113.

Source: Landlord Paralegal