Dispute resolution should often be viewed as a last resort, as it can be time-consuming, costly, and unpredictable. When faced with less urgent issues such as minor repairs or noisy neighbours, first notify your landlord in writing and give them a reasonable chance to fix the problem before applying for dispute resolution. Of course, when dealing with more urgent issues, such as an eviction notice or emergency repair, consider applying for dispute resolution right away.
Talking to your landlord can be challenging, especially when you disagree on an issue. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Prepare ahead of time: It can be helpful to summarize your main points in advance, or have a practice conversation with a friend or family member.
- Consider your timing: Try to have the conversation when you are calm and composed, rather than upset and emotional.
- Stay on topic: Raising irrelevant issues can derail the conversation and make it harder to address your main concerns. If your landlord is getting off topic, acknowledge that you have heard what they said, but then refocus them on the original conversation.
- Consider your landlord’s perspective: An effective communicator can be respectful of the other person’s perspective, while also clearly and calmly stating their own.
- Be professional: It is in your best interest to be professional when dealing with your landlord, regardless of how they have treated you in the past. Stay focused on getting the best possible outcome rather than engaging in personal attacks and aggressive comments.
You may struggle to find the right words when writing your landlord. To help with this, TRAC has developed a series of template letters on topics such as bed bugs, deposits, illegal rent increases, etc. Download one of our letters as a starting point. From there, you can add your own details, the date, and your signature before sending the letter.
Here are some tips to consider when writing your letter:
- Keep it short and sweet: Stick to your main points and avoid overwhelming your landlord with irrelevant details.
- Organization is key: Structure your letter in a way that makes it easy to read. If you are dealing with multiple issues, you may want to number them and address them one by one.
- Think twice: Before sending your letter, review it, or have someone else review it. You may even want to wait a night to see if you would change anything the next day.
- Consider your tone: Do not simply send a letter to complain to your landlord. You want your letter to be professional so that it helps you achieve a successful outcome. For example, do not write in CAPITAL LETTERS, since that means that you are SHOUTING!
- Be respectful: Remember that your landlord may keep a copy of your written communication for their record. Avoid writing anything that an arbitrator would find disrespectful.
You can contact the Residential Tenancy Branch and request that an Information Officer call your landlord and explain the law. Some landlords will be more likely to behave once a government employee has outlined the potential consequences for their illegal behaviour.