Preparing for a Hearing

The Basics

Gathering and Submitting Evidence

Here are some examples of evidence that you should consider submitting:

  • Tenancy agreement: Your landlord is legally required to give you a copy of your tenancy agreement within 21 days of entering into your tenancy.
  • Written communication: Include written communication that strengthens your case, such as letters, forms, and notices. Relevant emails, texts, and social media messages may also be considered by arbitrators.
  • Photos: Add descriptions of the photos and when they were taken. You should number and label them in a consistent fashion – for example, “Living Room Photo 1” and “Living Room Photo 2”.
  • Audio and video recordings: Indicate which parts of the audio recordings and videos you would like the arbitrator to listen to and watch.
  • Witnesses: Have witnesses speak at the hearing or submit signed witness statements.
  • Affidavits: Submit affidavits (sworn statements) signed by you or your witnesses. A lawyer, Notary Public, or Commissioner of Oaths can assist you with this process. Affidavits may cost money but are generally considered stronger evidence than unsworn statements.
  • Receipts: You will need proof of the expenses you paid when seeking a monetary order.
  • Monetary Order Worksheet: If you are applying for a monetary order, you must submit the Residential Tenancy Branch form, “Monetary Order Worksheet”.

 


 

Deadlines to Submit Evidence

All evidence that you want to rely on at dispute resolution needs to be submitted to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) and properly served on your landlord.

The person applying for dispute resolution – the “applicant” – should do their best to submit evidence with their application. If that is not possible, the RTB and the respondent must receive the evidence at least 14 days before the hearing. Evidence should always be submitted as soon as possible, as arbitrators have the right to refuse evidence that was intentionally submitted later than it could have been.

The person responding to the application – the “respondent” – must ensure that all their evidence is received by the RTB and the applicant at least 7 days before the hearing. Again, if evidence submission is intentionally delayed, the arbitrator may decide to not consider it.

Late evidence: If you miss the deadline for submitting evidence, you can still submit your evidence late. Be prepared to have an argument ready for why the arbitrator should consider the evidence at the hearing. For example, the evidence may have only become available after the evidence deadline. If your landlord brings up evidence during a hearing that you did not receive on time, you can ask the arbitrator to not consider it, or to adjourn (reschedule) the hearing to a later date. See section 3.17 of the Rules of Procedure for more information.

Service rules: The way that evidence is served can affect when it is legally considered received. See TRAC’s webpage, Serving Documents, for more information.

 


 

Digital Evidence

Tenants who have filed for dispute resolution must, where possible, digitally submit evidence to the RTB through their online system. If you are not able to upload evidence in this manner, you can still submit physical copies directly to the RTB, or to any Service BC Centre across the province. Digitally submitting evidence to the RTB will make it available to the arbitrator handling your case, but the RTB will not send copies to your landlord on your behalf. This means that, when you digitally submit evidence to the RTB, you must also serve copies of that evidence to your landlord using an accepted method of service according to the Residential Tenancy Act.

When submitting digital evidence, you should ensure that your evidence is well organized. According to section 3.10.1 of the Rules of Procedure, digital evidence should be accompanied by descriptions of the evidence, logical numbering systems for photographs, a time code for the key point in any audio or video recordings, etc. You must also submit RTB form, “Digital Evidence Details”. This form will help keep your evidence organized for the arbitrator, and ensure you follow the required steps for service.

When serving digital evidence on your landlord, you must ensure that they are able to access the evidence. For example, if you submit video evidence to the RTB online, and then make a DVD of that video to serve on your landlord, you must confirm with your landlord that they have playback equipment for the DVD, or can somehow access the information on the disc. When asked about whether they can access a particular format, your landlord must reply as soon as possible. If you choose to submit digital evidence, you must keep exact copies of that evidence for two years after the dispute resolution process has concluded. See sections 3.0 and 3.10 of the Rules of Procedure and RTB Policy Guideline 42 for more information.

 


 

Organizing My Evidence

This section is currently being updated.

 


 

Preparing a Written Submission

This section is currently being updated.

 


 

Bringing Help

The dispute resolution process has been designed for self-representation, which means that most tenants are able to participate in hearings on their own. That being said, if you feel that you need some assistance during your hearing, you have the right to bring a family member, friend, legal advocate, lawyer, translator, or interpreter.

 


 

Rescheduling My Hearing

This section is currently being updated.