landlord; tenant; tenancy; lease agreement; lease; RTDRS


RTDRS: When Landlords And Tenants Have Disputes

For both a landlord and a tenant, problems can come up that are frustrating, expensive and emotional. Due to the number of people who rent residential property, there are inevitably a large number of complaints and disputes. Before the implementation of the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service, landlords and tenants could only go to court. The court process is a much more expensive and time consuming process. The implementation of the RTDRS has made the process much smoother and easier to navigate.

What Is Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS)?

Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service is an alternative method of resolving landlord and tenant disputes. Rather than going through the courts with the litigation process, either the landlord or tenants can make an application under the Residential Tenancy Act. RTDRS is a faster and more affordable method of resolving tenancy disputes in accordance with the law. There are offices in both Edmonton and Calgary where the applicant can file their application and pay the respective fees. It is acceptable to fax applications by applicants from outside Edmonton and Calgary, but inside Alberta.

Once you have applied, the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service will set a date, time and location for the hearing.  On the day of the hearing there will be a Tenancy Dispute Officer who will conduct the hearing. The respondent also has the right to make an opposing claim against the applicant. Counter-claims go through the same process as original applicants go through. They also pay the fees for their application. Counter-claim applications submitted early on allow the original claim and counter-claim hearings to happen at the same time. The Tenancy Dispute Officer has a duty to be impartial and independent, so this process still fair and just.

The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Hearing Process

RTDRS determines matters in a hearing. Officers conduct hearings in person or via telephone if the parties are unable to attend. If either party is unable to attend and wishes to appear via phone the RTDRS must be notified at least 60 minutes in advance of the hearing time of this intention. Applications made outside of Calgary and Edmonton are heard via telephone. The hearing will be recorded and is open to the public, however the application documents submitted are not public. The Tenancy Dispute Officer will assess all the evidence, listen to both sides of the story, then make a decision that resolves the dispute.

The court enforces Tenancy Dispute Officer decisions.  The Tenancy Dispute Officers decide matters on the hearing conclusion, or they reserve their decision and give a written decision with reasons within 30 days of the conclusion of the proceedings. All decisions must follow the Residential Tenancies Act.

Who Qualifies For RTDRS?

Applications of up to $50,000 made within 2 years from the date of the cause of the claim qualifies for the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service process.  The law prohibits dividing  a single claim into two applications. Applicants with claims over $50,000 but proceed with RTDRS, forfeit the amount over $50,000.

The person that makes the application with RTDRS will be responsible for serving the documents to each respondent. They must serve the notice of hearing, a copy of the filed application, as well as copies of the evidence filed with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service. Any other information provided by the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service must also be served.

If you have already made an application to the courts regarding the same matter, RTDRS will refuse to hear your application.

What Is The Cost?

The application cost is $75. Some low-income individuals qualify for a fee waiver or reduction.

Do You Need A Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to make this application or to attend the hearing. However, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will make an enforceable decision based on the evidence both parties bring to the hearing. Having a lawyer would be useful because they can give you advice about the evidence you should have to support your case. They will use their expertise to help you build a strong and compelling case to present before the Tenancy Dispute Officer.

The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service process is simpler than the court process. Many important timelines and rules apply.  Failure to comply with certain rules could result in forfeiting the application fee and having to begin again. A lawyer will help ensure that you have submitted all necessary documentation and complied with both the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Rules of Practice and Procedure and the Residential Tenancy Act. Although it is not required, there are many advantages to retaining a lawyer for RTDRS hearings.

Getting Help As A Landlord Or A Tenant

To schedule a meeting with one of our Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service lawyers, please Call or email our litigation team at Kahane Law Office. CONNECT NOW. We can be reached at 403-225-8810 or email us directly here.