WHAT IS DISPUTE RESOLUTION?
A dispute resolution hearing is a legal proceeding to resolve issues between tenants and landlords. It is essentially BC’s Tenant and Landlord Court. The hearings are administered by the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), the government department in charge of residential tenancy law in BC. While similar to a court proceeding, dispute resolution hearings are less formal and only cost $100 to apply. They are almost always held over the phone and designed for self-representation, meaning you do not need a lawyer.
Disputes that fall under the Residential Tenancy Act or Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act must be resolved through dispute resolution at the RTB. Other courts or the police do not resolve tenancy issues. An exception is if the dispute is regarding a monetary claim of more than $25,000, in which case the Supreme Court of BC would need to hear the case.
In most cases, landlords and tenants should attempt to resolve issues on their own before applying for dispute resolution. If they are unable to reach an agreement, dispute resolution is the next option.
During dispute resolution, an arbitrator (similar to a judge) will conduct a hearing and allow both the landlord and tenant to present evidence and argue their case. The arbitrator will then consider the relevant sections of the law, along with the evidence submitted by both parties, before reaching a decision based on a balance of probabilities. This can take up to 30 days. Any order issued by an arbitrator is legally binding, meaning that the parties are legally obligated to comply with it.
The person who applies for the hearing is called the applicant, while the other person is the respondent. The RTB publishes Rules of Procedure, which explain the rules about applying for dispute resolution, submitting evidence, and participating in the hearing. It is important to read this document, as well as the RTB’s website pages about the dispute resolution process, before applying.
NOTE: The Old Rules of Procedure may apply for applications submitted before October 26, 2015.
Here are some examples of issues you can resolve at dispute resolution:
- When a landlord wants to keep part or all of a security / pet damage deposit
- When a landlord issues a notice to end tenancy and the tenant thinks it’s unfair and wants to challenge it.
- If a tenant wants to force their landlord to repair something
- If a tenant is being unreasonably disturbed by the landlord or other tenants.
- If a landlord has restricted an essential service or facility
- If the tenant has caused damage to the property and refuses to pay for the repairs.
No. The dispute resolution process is less formal than a court proceeding, and is designed for self-representation. Because disputes at the Residential Tenancy Branch are limited to claims of up to $25,000, it usually does not make sense to hire a lawyer.
You may however, wish to seek the help of an advocate. Advocates are community workers who can provide you with legal information, help you prepare for your hearing, and in some cases, represent you during the hearing. Advocates’ services are free, but usually reserved for people with low-incomes, or people who would have difficulty dealing with legal matters themselves.
You can use PovNet’s Find an Advocate Map to find an advocate near you.
- Dispute Resolution Rules of Procedure
- Tenant’s Application for Dispute Resolution
- Application to Waive Filing Fee
- Application for Substituted Service
- Landlord’s Application for Dispute Resolution
- Tenant’s Request to Join Applications
- Schedule of Parties
- Monetary Order Worksheet
- Confirmation of Service of Monetary Order for Provincial Court
- RTB Policy Guideline #3 – Claims for Rent and Damages for Loss of Rent
- RTB Policy Guideline #15 – Summons to Testify
- RTB Policy Guideline #16 – Claims in Damages
- RTB Policy Guideline #23 – Amending an application for Arbitration
- RTB Policy Guideline #27 – Jurisdiction
- RTB Policy Guideline # 36 – Extending Time Lines
- RTB Policy Guideline #39 – Direct Requests
- RTB Policy Guideline #42 – Digital Evidence
- List of Service BC offices
- Tenant Survival Guide Chapter 10 – Dispute Resolution
- The Law Centre – Small Claims Fact Sheets
- The Ministry of Justice – Getting Results
- The Canadian Bar Association – Getting your Judgement Paid