In certain cases, you can apply for the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to review a decision that you think is unfair. There are only 3 reasons why the RTB will agree to review a decision:
- If you were unable to attend the hearing for reasons unanticipated and beyond your control. There must be a serious reason why you were unable to attend the hearing.
- If there is new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing, and is credible, relevant, and would have had an effect on the decision.
- The other party intentionally used fraud to get the outcome they desired.
If a review is granted, the RTB will do one of 3 things:
- Hold a new hearing where both parties participate.
- Hold a written hearing.
- Reconvene the original hearing. (This will happen only if the review is regarding a single, narrow issue.)
After the hearing, the arbitrator will either confirm the original decision, or make a new decision.
Deadlines to apply
There are different deadlines depending on what the decision was about. There is a $50 fee to apply, unless you had your fee waived for the original hearing.
- Notice to end tenancy for non-payment of rent or utilities
- Early end to tenancy
- Order of Possession
- Landlord withholding consent to sublet or assign unit
- Notice to end tenancy for any reason other than non-payment of rent or utilities
- Repairs and Maintenance
- Terminating or restricting services or facilities
- Any other matter
Applying for a review consideration of an order of possession:
If your landlord was granted an order of possession, and you have applied for a review consideration, it is important to notify your landlord right away. Landlords are not allowed to file an order of possession in Supreme Court until the RTB has made a decision about your application.
See TRAC’s template letter, Notice of Review Consideration of Order of Possession.
If you think your Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) hearing or decision was unfair but you do not have grounds for a RTB review, you can consider applying for a judicial review through the Supreme Court of BC.
The RTB is considered an expert tribunal on matters of residential tenancy law. This means that the standard of review of RTB decisions is very high; a Supreme Court judge can only set aside a decision of the RTB if they find it to be patently unreasonable, procedurally unfair, or blatantly incorrect.
Section 58 of The Administrative Tribunals Act defines a decision as being “patently unreasonable” if the decision:
- is exercised arbitrarily or in bad faith,
- is exercised for an improper purpose,
- is based entirely or predominantly on irrelevant factors, or
- fails to take statutory requirements into account.
If the judge finds a decision to be patently unreasonable, procedurally unfair, or blatantly incorrect, they will usually not make a new decision. Instead, they will order a new dispute resolution hearing at the RTB. If you win the judicial review, it is not guaranteed that you will win the new hearing at the RTB.
Deadline to apply
60 days from the date the decision was made (not the date you received it).
Requesting that an Order of Possession (eviction) be put on hold
If you are applying for judicial review because your landlord has been issued an Order of Possession (a legal order requiring you to move out), you may need to apply for the order to be put on hold while you wait for a hearing. This is called an “interim stay.” Simply applying for judicial review does not put the Order of Possession on hold, so your landlord may proceed with the eviction process if you do not get an interim stay.
Appealing a judicial review decision
If you lose the judicial review and disagree with the decision, you can appeal the decision in the BC Court of Appeal within 30 days.
Learn more about Judicial Review
Judicial reviews are complicated and there may be significant fees involved. If you think you are going to proceed with one, you may first want to speak to a lawyer. For example, the Community Legal Assistance Society may be able to provide free representation depending on your situation. Even if they are not able to represent you, they still offer great self-help information. To learn about the judicial review process, visit CLAS’s BC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide website.
If you do not understand a decision or the arbitrator’s reasons, you can request clarification from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). First, call the RTB and ask an Information Officer to explain the decision. If you are still confused, you can request a written clarification of the decision. The decision will not be changed, but the arbitrator will try to clarify and explain the decision in plain language.
Deadline to apply: 15 days after order received
If you think there was an obvious mistake or inadvertent omission in the order, such as listing an incorrect date or amount of money owed, you can request a correction from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). The RTB can correct a mistake in the order, but will not change the decision.
Deadline to apply: 15 days after the order received
If you think that the RTB has treated you unfairly, you can file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson investigates provincial government ministries and agencies to ensure fairness. Filing a complaint will not change the outcome of your hearing, but may help future tenants avoid unfair treatment.
- RTB Policy Guideline #25 – Request for Clarification or Correction of Orders and Decisions
- RTB Policy Guideline # 24 – Review Consideration of a Decision or Order
- Request for Clarification Form
- Request for Correction Form
- Application for Review Consideration Form
- Supreme Court of BC – Judicial Review Information Package
- Tenant Survival Guide Chapter 10 – Dispute Resolution
- Community Legal Assistance Society – Representing yourself in a Judicial Review
- Justice Education Society – Judicial Review
- Office of the Ombudsperson – How to Make a Complaint
- Community Legal Assistance Society – BC Residential Tenancy Branch Ombudsperson Complaint Kit