Completing the Dispute Resolution Process

What is dispute resolution?

Evidence

What are the methods for submitting evidence to RTB?

The dispute resolution hearing

Who has the burden of proof?
Do I have to submit evidence?
What are the Dispute Resolution Rules of Procedure?

Arbitrator's Decisions and Orders

How long does it take to get the arbitrator's decision?
How is an arbitrator's decision enforced?

Correction, clarification and review of an arbitrator's decision

How can I request correction or clarification of an arbitrator's decision?
What is the process for reviewing an arbitrator's decision under residential tenancy law?
What is the process for judicial review of an arbitrator's decision?

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What is dispute resolution?

Dispute resolution is a quasi-judicial process for resolving landlord-tenant disputes. Landlords and tenants provide the Residential Tenancy Branch and other party with their evidence before the hearing according to the Dispute Resolution Rules of Procedure. Evidence includes any receipts, documents and witnesses that can help prove their claim. The Residential Tenancy Branch hears both sides and makes a decision based on the evidence and the law. The hearing may be conducted at a government office or by telephone conference call.

An arbitrator is impartial and is trained to adjudicate residential tenancy issues, similar to a judge. The arbitrator's decisions and orders are legally binding.

An arbitrator can hear a claim for money if the amount is less than $25,000. If it is a higher amount, a landlord or tenant must apply to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The Residential Tenancy Branch supports the dispute resolution process by scheduling the hearings and maintaining the file of documents related to each dispute resolution case.

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The Residential Tenancy Branch has up to 30 days to issue a decision.

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Evidence

What is evidence?

Evidence anything that is presented by a landlord or tenant in a dispute resolution hearing. Documentary evidence is paperwork, including a tenancy agreement, notices of rent increase, notice to end tenancy, receipts and letters between the landlord and tenant. Digital evidence includes digital photographs, audio recordings and video recordings. Testimonial evidence is an oral statement spoken at the hearing.

All evidence must be:

  • relevant -- directly related to the issues identified on the Application for Dispute Resolution
  • organized – pages should be in the same order, addressing the claim in a logical order
  • clear and legible – easy to read, see or hear.

What are the methods for submitting evidence to RTB?

Submit only copies of evidence to the Residential Tenancy Branch. Do not submit original evidence to the Residential Tenancy Branch unless specifically requested to do so by an arbitrator.

Evidence cannot be submitted by email

Evidence may be submitted to the Residential Tenancy Branch by:

An identical copy of evidence must be served on the other party:

  • in person
  • by leaving it with an adult who appears to live with the tenant
  • by leaving it with an agent of the landlord, such as a property manager
  • by sending a copy by regular or registered mail to a tenant’s home or the address where the landlord carries on business as a landlord,
  • by sending a copy by regular or registered mail to the tenant’s forwarding address
  • by leaving a copy in the landlord or tenant’s mailbox
  • by attaching it to the tenant’s door or the landlord’s office door
  • by fax, if the other party provided a fax number.

Note that when evidence is provided in the same package as hearing documents, it cannot be faxed, sent by regular mail, left in the mailbox or posted on the door.

When must evidence be served and submitted?

There are time limits for submitting evidence for dispute resolution hearings. All evidence must be served to the other party and submitted to Residential Tenancy Branch as soon as possible. An Applicant should provide their evidence with their application and hearing package.

Sometimes it is not possible to provide evidence with the application. Evidence should always be provided as soon as possible. An Applicant must make sure their evidence is received by the Respondent and the Residential Tenancy Branch not less than 14 days before the dispute resolution proceeding. A Respondent must make sure their evidence is received by the Applicant and the Residential Tenancy Branch not less than 7 days before the hearing. Note: the important date is the date it is received by the Residential Tenancy Branch. This will not be the day it is submitted when it is sent by mail or fax.

When figuring out the deadline for submitting evidence to the Residential Tenancy Branch, the words “not less than” mean that you must completely exclude:

  • the day the Residential Tenancy Branch receives the evidence;
  • the day of the hearing.

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The Dispute Resolution hearing

Who has the burden of proof?

A party applying for dispute resolution must prove their claim. This is usually done by submitting evidence that supports their point of view. Evidence may include paperwork and/or pictures.

Do I have to submit evidence?

Both the landlord and the tenant should submit evidence to support their claim. Evidence may include paperwork and/or pictures. If the application concerns the end of a tenancy, each party should submit a copy of the tenancy agreement and the Notice to End Tenancy.

If the application concerns money, the applicant should submit a Monetary Order Worksheet.

Landlords completing an Application for Direct Request to obtain an Order of Possession and a Monetary Order for Unpaid Rent or Utilities may use the Direct Request process when the tenant has neither paid the amount owing nor applied to the Residential Tenancy Branch to cancel the 10 Day Notice to End Tenancy for Unpaid Rent or Utilities (form RTB-30) within 5 days of receiving it. For this process, landlords must complete a Monetary Order Worksheet Direct Request.

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What are the Dispute Resolution Rules of Procedure?

Every dispute resolution hearing must be conducted according to the Dispute Resolution Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Procedure ensure that tenancy dispute hearings are conducted in a consistent, efficient and just manner.

For example, the Rules of Procedure advise landlords and tenants to give the Residential Tenancy Branch and the other party copies of the documents, photographs, and video recordings, which they plan to use as evidence, as soon as possible. This helps the Residential Tenancy Branch conduct hearings efficiently by ensuring that landlords and tenants have enough time to examine evidence.

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Residential Tenancy Branch Decisions and Orders

How long does it take to get the Residential Tenancy Branch decision?

The Residential Tenancy Branch has up to 30 days to issue a decision.

How is a Residential Tenancy Branch decision enforced?

When the Residential Tenancy Branch makes an order, it is the responsibility of the person who benefits from the order to enforce the order. The original order must be served on the person(s) named in the order. Most people comply with the order once it is served on them. If the person(s) does not comply, it can be enforced through the Provincial or Supreme Court of British Columbia by filing documents at the appropriate Court Registry.

Residential tenancy law does not give the Residential Tenancy Branch or arbitrators the authority to enforce orders or to assist with this process. Questions about the Courts' enforcement process should be directed to the local Court Registry.

A Monetary Order of the Residential Tenancy Branch is enforced in the Provincial Court (Small Claims). The Court establishes the procedures for enforcing orders. The person who benefits from the order will have to serve a copy of the order on all respondents named in the order. The Confirmation of Service of Monetary Order for Enforcement in Provincial Court - RTB-21 (PDF) must be used to swear that the respondent(s) was properly served. Then the original order and the completed Confirmation of Service of Monetary Order for Enforcement in Provincial Court must be filed at the Small Claims Court Registry after the 15 day appeal period has passed.

An Order of Possession of the Residential Tenancy Branch is enforceable through the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The person who benefits from the order will have to serve a copy of the order on all persons named in the order. The Supreme Court Residential Tenancy Act Writ of Possession Package contains the required documents. An Affidavit form to swear that the respondent(s) was properly served must be filed. If the tenant does not leave voluntarily or as required in the order, the person who benefits from the order must apply to the nearest Supreme Court Registry to issue a Writ of Possession after the two day appeal period has passed. The original Order, the completed Affidavit and the completed Writ of Possession form must be filed at the nearest Court Registry. Once the Court has issued the Writ of Possession, the person benefitting from the order must see a Court Bailiff who will explain the enforcement procedures.

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Correction, clarification and review of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision

How can I request correction or clarification of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision?

If a landlord or a tenant does not understand a Residential Tenancy Branch decision or order, or needs clarification about it, he or she can speak with a Residential Tenancy Information Officer. If this doesn't help, he or she can ask for correction or clarification by completing a Request for Correction or Request for Clarification form. The purpose of clarification is not to re-argue the dispute, but to remove any ambiguity or an obvious error in the Residential Tenancy Branch decision.

Residential tenancy laws allow the arbitrator to correct a typographical, arithmetical or obvious error in the decision or order. An "obvious error" is one that can easily be seen or understood, and that the arbitrator readily agrees is an error.

In most cases, a party must submit a Request for Correction or Request for Clarification form to the Burnaby or Victoria Residential Tenancy Branch office within 15 days after the decision or order is given.

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What is the process for reviewing a Residential Tenancy Branch decision under residential tenancy law?

A landlord or tenant may apply for a review of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision for one or more of the following three reasons.

  • You were unable to attend the original hearing due to circumstances that could not be anticipated and that were beyond your control.
  • You have new and relevant evidence that was not available at the time of the original hearing.
  • You have evidence that the Residential Tenancy Branch decision was obtained by fraud.

There are strict time deadlines for filing an Application for Review Consideration of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision or order.

Once a person receives a copy of a decision or order, he or she has two days to apply for a review if the decision or order concerns an Order of Possession or the subletting of a tenancy.

A person has five days to apply for a review if the decision or order deals with repairs or disputing a notice to end a tenancy.

In all other cases, applications for a review of a decision or order regarding money must be made within fifteen days.

The Residential Tenancy Branch cannot extend the time to apply for review other than in exceptional circumstances.

There is a fee that must be paid in order to apply for a review. If a person has a very low income, they can apply for a fee waiver. Applicants must provide proof of income before the fee will be waived. Applicants must provide proof of income before the fee will be waived.

If a person feels that the arbitrator was biased, made an error in law or made a decision outside of the arbitrator's jurisdiction, he or she may apply to the Supreme Court for judicial review. The same is true if a person believes there has been a breach of natural justice. It may be beneficial to seek legal advice.

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What is the process for judicial review of a Residential Tenancy Branch decision?

No government official or Residential Tenancy Branch staffperson has the ability to change, vary, alter or interfere with a Residential Tenancy Branch decision. Only a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia can review a Residential Tenancy Branch decision based on an error in law, bias, or procedural fairness.

If a landlord or tenant wishes to ask for judicial review, he or she must apply to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for a petition for judicial review under the Judicial Review Procedure Act. A landlord or tenant considering this action may wish to seek legal advice.

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