PARTICIPATING IN A HEARING
Most hearings are held over the phone. In your hearing documents, there will be instructions about how to dial in to the hearing. Make sure that you call at the right time. If you are late, it will start without you. If the arbitrator is late to the hearing, you will have to wait for them to connect to the line. Don’t hang up!
At the start of the hearing, the arbitrator will explain the rules and how the hearing will proceed. They will also address any preliminary matters. This is the time to mention anything that needs to be dealt with before the hearing starts. For example, if you have an Advocate or friend representing you, if you will have a witness speak during the hearing, or if you need to make changes to your application.
Requesting an adjournment:
In some cases you may need to request that the hearing be adjourned (postponed). This could happen if you did not receive your landlord’s evidence in time to prepare a response. The arbitrator will decide whether or not to adjourn the hearing.
During the hearing, both parties will have the chance to make an argument and present their evidence, including any witness testimonies. Make sure to present your evidence clearly and concisely, and avoid issues that are not relevant to the hearing. If you have submitted evidence, you should explain why it is important, and what it proves. Don’t assume that the arbitrator will understand why you have submitted a particular piece of evidence, or what that evidence demonstrates.
The applicant will present their evidence first, followed by the respondent. One exception to this is when a tenant has applied to dispute an eviction notice. In that case, the landlord must present their evidence first even though the tenant is the applicant.
Dispute resolution hearings can be emotional, but it is important to stay calm and not become angry. You are not allowed to interrupt the arbitrator or your landlord while they are talking. If you have a question, or object to something they are saying, write it down so that you remember to bring it up at a more appropriate time.
The arbitrator should allow you enough time to present your case and all of your relevant evidence. If it feels like the arbitrator is interrupting you, or not allowing you to speak, it is okay to ask them to allow you to continue speaking. You can remind them that you have the right to a fair hearing, and let them know that you have not finished explaining your case or presenting your evidence.
In some cases, an arbitrator may try to help you and your landlord come to an agreement. This can be helpful, but don’t feel pressured to agree to a settlement that you are not happy with.
At the end of the hearing, the arbitrator may inform you of their decision right away, or they may say that they will review the evidence and make a decision later. They are required to make a decision within 30 days of the hearing. If the hearing relates to a notice to end tenancy, the arbitrator will usually make their decision within 1 or 2 days.