Tenant Duty Counsel

What is Tenant Duty Counsel?

If a landlord and tenant have a dispute that requires a hearing, then that hearing is at the Landlord & Tenant Board (255 Albert Street, 4th floor).  Tenant Duty Counsel is a free service provided to tenants, to offer summary legal advice before their hearing goes forward.  The Tenant Duty Counsel Program (TDCP) is a program of The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), funded by Legal Aid Ontario.

What can Duty Counsel do for tenants?

Duty Counsel can provide legal advice to tenants about their hearing. For example: discussing how best to present your case; potential arguments pro/con; answering questions about the hearing process; providing written submissions; reviewing evidence; and, as necessary negotiating with the landlord.

Duty Counsel does not represent tenants at hearing, but may be able to present a motion on their behalf.  For example, present a “motion to set aside a default order”, or request an adjournment.

How can tenants help Duty Counsel?

 The biggest problem faced by Duty Counsel is if a tenant is not prepared for their hearing. The best way to be prepared is:

  • To bring all paperwork with them (all the hearing documents and any notices received);
  • To bring proof with them (for example witnesses, rent receipts, lease etc.);
  • If the issue is about being behind in rent, to have a payment plan in mind OR even better, be able to pay (all /some).

How can tenants help themselves?

Make sure you read and understand any paperwork you get from your landlord. If you do not understand something, do not wait – call the legal clinic in your area to get answers to your questions. The Ottawa legal clinics are:

Can Duty Counsel help tenants who do not have hearings?

Yes, but Duty Counsel must first help the tenants who have hearings, and serving walk-in tenants will depend on availability of staff and the issue at hand.

Duty Counsel is generally at the Board Mondays through Thursdays.

Duty Counsel can give legal advice, and may be able to help tenants with certain paperwork (for example, completing a request for a motion to set-aside or request for an extension of time).

Duty Counsel may refer the tenant to either a legal clinic for further advice or representation, or directly to the Integrated Law Office/Legal Aid Ontario.

Duty Counsel does not fill out tenant applications.