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Professional Standards Manual

Strata Management Services

2. Practice Standards

(e) Filing of Liens

The Law Society of British Columbia, upon being made aware of the issue by a member of the public, has advised the Real Estate Council that strata managers cannot charge a separate fee for the preparation of a Form G-Certificate of Lien and a Form H-Acknowledgment of Payment, as it considers that to be providing legal services. Section 116 of the Strata Property Act gives a strata corporation the authority to register a lien against an owner’s strata lot under certain circumstances in a prescribed form — Form G-Certificate of Lien. To remove a lien, the prescribed Form H-Acknowledgement of Payment, is required.

Strata managers, who prepare the above forms, often do so for a fee, which is charged back to the strata corporation or owner’s strata fee account, against whose strata lot the lien is registered. Often times, this fee is described as a lien fee or lien preparation fee. The Unauthorized Practice Committee of the Law Society considered the issue and has taken the view that preparing Forms G and H for a fee, pursuant to the Strata Property Act and Regulation, falls within the ‘‘practice of law’’ as defined in the Legal Profession Act. The Law Society has, however, advised that as the prescribed Forms G and H of the Strata Property Act allow for a strata manager to sign such forms, the Society will not object to managers preparing these forms, with the proviso that the strata manager does not charge a separate fee for preparing them. Accordingly, the Law Society has indicated that as long as the preparation of these forms is part of a strata manager’s general duties, and is not a service that is provided and billed for separately, it will not consider this matter to warrant its intervention. In summary, it is important that strata managers do not charge a fee for the preparation of the lien certificates. Fees may be charged for the administration and enforcement of the debt, including work performed prior to the issuance of a lien certificate, such as letter writing, telephone calls, meetings, etc., and for the recovery of the cost for filing and releasing the lien at the applicable Land Title Office, as these activities would not fall within the definition of the ‘‘practice of law’’. It is important that licensees appropriately define the services covered by the fees that are charged.

Licensees must not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Licensees should familiarize themselves with the definition in sections 1(1) and 15(1) (Authority to practice law) of the Legal Profession Act. Licensees may find a copy of the Legal Profession Act by accessing www.bclaws.ca.