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 are the methods for submitting evidence to RTB?

There are time limits for submitting evidence for dispute resolution hearings. All evidence must be served to the Residential Tenancy Branch as soon as possible and at least five days before the dispute resolution proceeding. Note: this is the date it is received by the Residential Tenancy Branch which will not necessarily be the day it is submitted if it is sent by mail or fax.

When figuring out the deadline for submitting evidence to the Residential Tenancy Branch, the words "at least" mean that you must completely exclude:

  • the day the Residential Tenancy Branch receives the evidence;
  • the day of the hearing; and
  • any weekends or government holidays in between.

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.

To submit evidence to RTB, use one of the following methods:

Evidence cannot be submitted by email.

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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, the parties should submit a copy of the tenancy agreement.

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 videotapes, which they plan to use as evidence, at least five days before the hearing. 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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