You can ask the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) to review a decision that you have lost. This is not a chance to simply re-argue your case, as reviews are only granted in limited circumstances. Section 79(2) of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) lists three situations where the RTB may accept an Application for Review Consideration:
- A person was unable to attend the hearing for reasons unanticipated and beyond their control.
- There is new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing, and would have influenced the original decision.
- The other party intentionally used fraud to get the outcome they desired.
Fee: There is a $50 fee to apply for a Review Consideration, unless you had your fee waived for the original hearing.
Deadlines: There are different application deadlines, depending on the nature of the dispute. For the following types of decisions, there is a two-day deadline from the time the person receives the decision:
- unreasonable withholding of consent to assign or sublet;
- eviction for non-payment of rent;
- order of possession for the tenant or the landlord; and
- application to end a tenancy early.
For the following types of decisions, there is a five-day deadline from the time the person receives the decision:
- repairs or maintenance;
- services or facilities; and
- any eviction notice other than one for non-payment of rent.
For all other types of decisions, there is a 15-day deadline from the time the person receives the decision. See section 80 of the RTA for more information.
If your Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) hearing or decision was unfair, but your situation does not fit the eligibility criteria for a RTB Review Consideration, you can apply for a judicial review through BC Supreme Court.
The RTB is considered an expert tribunal on matters of residential tenancy law. This means that the standard of review for RTB decisions is quite high; a BC Supreme Court judge can only set aside a RTB decision if they find it to be procedurally unfair, patently unreasonable, or blatantly incorrect.
When you participate in a dispute resolution hearing, you have the right to natural justice – also known as procedural fairness. This means that an arbitrator must allow you a fair opportunity to know the case against you, present evidence, and argue your case. In addition, section 58 of the Administrative Tribunals Act defines a decision as being “patently unreasonable” if it:
- 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 a BC Supreme Court judge finds a decision to be procedurally unfair, patently unreasonable, or blatantly incorrect, they will usually order a new dispute resolution hearing at the RTB, rather than reach a new decision on their own. This means that even if you are successful in your judicial review application, it is not guaranteed that you will win the new hearing at the RTB.
Deadline: 60 days from the date the RTB decision was made.
Key referral: The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) is an expert organization on the topic of judicial review. If you are a tenant whose housing is at risk because you lost your dispute resolution hearing, CLAS may be able to assist you with a judicial review application. They also offer an online Judicial Review Self-Help Guide.
If a decision or order is unclear or contains a mistake, you can submit a “Request for Correction” or “Request for Clarification” form to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), free of charge. You will most likely not have to notify your landlord of this application, an unless arbitrator instructs you to do so.
For some types of issues, such as the following, there is a 15-day deadline to apply from the date you receive the decision or order:
- the decision is too complex or ambiguous and needs to be clarified;
- the decision contains an obvious error; or
- something was accidentally left out of the decision.
For other types of issues, such as the following, the 15-day deadline may not apply:
- the decision has a typo;
- the decision has grammatical errors; or
- the decision has a math error.
It can sometimes be challenging determining when the 15-day deadline applies. See RTB Policy Guideline 25 and section 78 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) for more information.
You can file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsperson if you think that the Residential Tenancy Branch has treated you unfairly. 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