Dealing with our landlord, John Cerino, is always a world class pain in the ass. Even (perhaps especially) when he has representation.
John showed up with another paralegal in tow, this guy:
A google search of the name “Joseph Kabuzek” yields this interesting gem. It would seem that Mr Kabuzek was a candidate in the 2018 Municipal election for Ward 7 City Councillor. He ran on a platform that would have gotten my vote (briefly, he states that “Joseph believes that one of the biggest issues in Hamilton are slumlords, who’ve been abusing their power and acting high handedly over people who live in poverty and would be facing displacement if they didn’t comply.”) Like John Cerino, for example. He got his ass kicked in the election, with 160 votes (1.33% of the popular vote).
<rant> It doesn’t pay to be one of the good guys in politics in this city, Joe. Come to think of it, it doesn’t pay to be one of the good guys at all in this city, and I’m beginning to suspect that holds everywhere in Ontario. But if you aren’t one of the good guys, you’re part of the problem. At least you ran. Me, I just tried to rein in a single slumlord, my third in ten years. </end rant>
Now Mr Kabuzek represents the most abusive landlord I’ve ever heard of, let alone encountered. Either life is full of irony, or Mr Kabuzek is the latest in John’s parade of legal whores; the kind of legal “professional” who will spread the legs of their talent for anybody with a fistful of cash. I guess I’ll have to wait and see about that point. Or maybe he’s just broke and needs the work. (If so, I’d advise him to squeeze John for the largest retainer he can get, and not let John run a tab. That didn’t work out so well for Jennifer Greenway, or Vidiwatte Yahkni. I don’t know about Dale Skvereckas, his third paralegal. John doesn’t pay his bills unless he’s forced to do so.)There’s a lot of that going on in Hamilton these days, despite the glowing headlines about this being the best economy ever.
John’s L1 Application (SOL-06060-19) had a few errors in it. I spoke to tenant duty counsel, and asked about the errors, as well as how to ask that the three T2 Applications be heard under Section 82 of the RTA. She explained how I would go about asking that, but did not tell me that the errors invalidated the N4. An N4 is an eviction notice, and like an N5, it can’t be amended. The landlord has to get it right the first time. I’ll be posting copies of the invalid N4, but the problem was quite simple. Instead of listing a monthly rent of 1139.95 for us, John had added an extra zero, filling in 11039.95 as our monthly rent. Ooops #2.
The member, Peter Guzina, was the same member who had heard one of our landlord’s L2 applications (SOL-01323-19, which was withdrawn on June 7, 2019 after two hearings, the other being on March 29, 2019) and his previous L1 Application (SOL-01207-19 on March 19, 2019) and had issued an interim order for us to pay our rent to our landlord’s representative to avoid exactly the kind of harassment that led to the first application (on March 21, 2019). Mr Guzina knew all of us by name. When I told him what I wanted, he said that Member Henry had been seized of the other applications (which, as far as I know, isn’t quite correct). Sean Henry had reserved the applications for himself (since they were related and should be heard together), but the only one that had even started to be heard was our T6 application for maintenance, filed in December 2016 (SOT-77620-16). Henry hasn’t heard or seen any evidence or anything else for our three T2 Applications). When I told him that Henry was releasing those applications to be heard, he asked us about our monthly rent. That’s when the plan went a bit awry.
At the end of the hearing, the application was withdrawn. Member Guzina did take the time to say that he shared some of the concerns about the Vice Chair’s directive (that’ll make more sense when the missing time periods are filled in on the blog) and the fact that our landlord can get hearing after hearing for his eviction applications while our applications (which allege some of the worst behavior possible for a landlord under the RTA) have languished unheard for almost three years. He suggested I write to the Vice Chair of the LTB and/or the Chair of the SJTO about the situation. I think I will. And I’ll post it here, along with any response as well. Whatever Vice Chair Bugby’s intentions, that directive has had the effect of allowing John Cerino to bring multiple eviction applications (three), two of which were withdrawn and the third settled by a consent order that our landlord had ignored (which was why we were there today). If the joined applications are heard separately and anywhere near simultaneously it becomes very difficult for me (or any other self represented litigant) to prepare and argue multiple applications.
I’m aware the LTB would rather this mess just go away. (Me too.) Sean Henry’s coercive tactics in pushing mediation (more on that coming) when it became larger and larger made that very apparent. Prejudicing the tenants interest is NOT the way to make it go away. If that scenario happens, I’ll do my best and get my objections to it on record at every opportunity. I started today.
Somebody should have stopped this marathon abuse of process a long time ago.
Member Guzina awarded us costs of $150. When he asked the paralegal (Joseph Kazubek) for submissions on the subject of costs, Mr Kabuzek asked for an adjournment to prepare the submissions. When that didn’t fly, he asked the tenants (us) for proof of employment to back our claim that we had missed work that day. Since I was dressed in a company uniform, on my way to work after the hearing, that didn’t impress the member. Then Mr Kabuzek tried to blame the errors in the N4 and L1 application on John Cerino’s previous representative. Since the forms had been signed by John, it was clear Kubuzek hadn’t bothered to actually read the documents. I was ready to point that out, but the member picked up on it himself. Sharp guy. Ooops #3.
All of which resulted in my favorite line of the day “Your submissions on costs have inspired me to consider Board costs”, spoken by Member Guzina to the paralegal, Joseph Kazubek. I’m fairly certain that was lawyer code for “You should’ve buttoned your beak about three minutes ago.” So it cost John an extra $150 in costs (payable to the LTB, not us) as well as his $190 filing fee. If I recall correctly (haven’t double checked) the LTB can only order a maximum of $100/hour for Board costs, figured from actual hearing time. The whole hearing took about 35 minutes, and member Guzina commented on the fact that the tenants had been dragged to the LTB twice in a month for applications that were withdrawn at the last moment by John Cerino. He even commented that the only difference this time was that the tenants found out he was withdrawing the application earlier in the day, rather than having their whole day wasted. He wasn’t happy about that, and I got the distinct impression the paralegal’s words aroused his ire. Hard to say, the guy has a good poker face.
The grand total for John for the day was $490, plus his paralegal’s fees (about three hours, and assuming John actually pays this one. It might depend on whether or not John realizes the paralegal added $150 to his costs for the day by being unprepared. John is very vindictive. Stay tuned).
After the hearing the paralegal gave us a card and asked if we wanted to pay the rent by cheque or etransfer as per the undertaking accepted by Jennifer Greenway (Sleazy Paralegal #2). My answer was “Consider my answer to be an upraised middle finger” (my hands were full). I’ll wait for the order to written before I comment much on that point. I’m not certain if he was gaslighting, hoping for a naive tenant who would just pay the rent, or something else. As far as I know, John has to serve another N4, and file another L1 application before that happens. If he does, Section 82 rears its ugly head again. If the order specifies that we pay the rent, then we’ll pay the arrears and start over. The only way to get a hearing, it seems, is to stop paying rent.
This paralegal is as sleazy as the first two, I think, but I’m not sure yet. Hopefully, he lasts long enough for me to find out. He’d discussed our case with my roomate for about 15 minutes before a previous hearing and had commented that he wouldn’t represent John, and couldn’t because he’d spoken with my roomate about the case. John ended up representing himself for that hearing (March 29, 2019). He’d been polling the paralegals, looking for representation before the hearing. We’ll see what comes of that. (If anything. I’m starting to doubt any paralegals have ethics any more. Or, if they do, it’s anything I’d recognize as ethics.)
When I get a copy of the order for this hearing, I’ll post that. The hearing recording will be posted when I get it as well.