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December 2020 – Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service

You have an issue with your tenant. They have caused damaged to your property and have broken the fixed lease term by leaving the rental property three months early. With COVID-19 still persisting, many people are conservative in their rental options and you start to lose money, being unable to find the right tenant for months.

You have an issue with your landlord. They are withholding your security deposit for what they are alleging are major damages to the property, when in reality the issue at hand is nothing more than the normal wear and tear of the property. You are unable to put down money on a new property as the security deposit is all you have to make the transition?

What can each party do?

Landlords and tenants involved in a dispute can apply to the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service [“RTDRS”] in order to resolve their matters. This administrative service is a more expedited and less costly manner than the Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench, in resolving residential tenancy disputes. 

Landlords can apply to RTDRS for 

  • unpaid rent and/or utilities
  • ending the tenancy and possession of the premises
  • financial damages from a tenant’s rental agreement breach
  • compensation for losses due to an over-holding tenant (tenant has not vacated the premises at the end of the tenancy)
  • order for a non-tenant occupant to vacate the premises (individual is not listed as a tenant on the rental agreement)

Tenants can apply to RTDRS for:

  • return of security deposit
  • ending the tenancy due to a landlord’s breach of the rental agreement
  • financial damages from a landlord’s rental agreement breach
  • reduction of rent for loss of benefit of a rental agreement
  • compensation for performing the landlord’s obligations as outlined in the rental agreement

Like the Provincial Court of Alberta, the RTDRS may accept applications up to $50,000.00. Do note that any application must be made within two years that a potential claim is discovered.

Currently with the restrictions, all RTDRS hearings are being heard by phone. The applicant, whether the landlord or the tenant must provide their application and serve the other party 24 hours clear from the hearing. E-mail service is a less formal method but is accepted. The other party has the option of a counter application which has the possibility to be heard at the same hearing. 

The introduction at the hearing is provided by the Tenancy Dispute Officer. The Applicant then has the time to disclose details of their claim. At this point, the applicant could be directly examined, with open questions, by their counsel to ensure full details of the claim are provided. Then, the other party is cross-examined with closed questions in order to find weaknesses in their version of events and potentially place some weight on questions to their credibility.

In the end, each party summarizes their case and the Tenancy Dispute Officer makes a binding decision.

There are different types of judgments that can be made at this time. Order for Possession and/or Judgment is issued when a landlord applies to end the tenancy, obtain possession of the rental premises or obtain a judgment for unpaid rent and/or utilities. An Order for Judgment may be issued when the landlord or tenant apply for a return of security deposit, unpaid rents and/or utilities, financial damages, physical damages to the premises, compensation for an over-holding tenant, compensation for performing the duties of the landlord, and abatement or reduction of rent. There may also be a Consent Order if the parties agree to a joint submission in front of the Tenancy Dispute Officer.

All in all, the RTDRS provides expedited, informal service to resolve landlord-tenant disputes.

Steve Dimic:

If you have any additional inquiries regarding any of the topics or if you have ideas for future topics, please feel free to email me at stevedimik@hotmail.com 

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