Joseph Kutar meets with you at your office to discuss a residential tenancies matter. Joseph’s landlord has just commenced an application to evict him on the grounds of substantial interference with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises by other tenants. You read over the allegations in the landlord’s application. While you are reading the application, Joseph reads the labels on some of the client files stacked on your desk. “I know that landlord,” he says, indicating one of the files. “I used to live in one of their buildings. A real slum.” You move the files to the floor behind your desk. Then you ask Joseph some questions, taking notes of his answers.
On the basis of what he tells you about his recent conduct, you think there is a good chance Joseph will be evicted if the matter goes to a hearing. He has steady employment, and can afford to move elsewhere. You advise him that the best course of action would be a mediated settlement that would give him some time to find another apartment and move out. When he hears this, Joseph’s behaviour becomes belligerent and threatening. “I pay my rent,” he says, “and I’m not moving anywhere. I’ll find someone else who knows what they’re doing!” He snatches the landlord application off your desk, and leaves your office.
The next day you have some hearings at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. While you are waiting outside the hearing room for your matters to be called, you get into a conversation with a couple of other paralegals who do a lot of residential tenancies work. One of them, Alice Fisher, says jokingly to you, “I’m doing some work for a former client of yours, Joseph Kutar. He told me he had to fire you because you kept giving him bad advice. What’s the real story?”
“Joseph Kutar!” exclaims Brad Adams, the other paralegal. “I know that creep! Big guy, red beard, grey hair down to his shoulders! I hope you got some money out of him, Alice. He stiffed me on a file a couple of years ago.”
Alice shrugs. “He gave me $1,000 up front. So I don’t care how crazy he is.” Turning to you, she says, “But I’m not sure I trust the guy. According to him, he’s a model tenant, but there’s got to be some reason the landlord wants him out so badly. What did he tell you? And, more importantly, what did you tell him to make him so angry?”
Several people are sitting or standing close by and can overhear your conversation.
Discuss this situation, with specific reference to any ethical and professional issues it presents. Support your analysis with specific details.