Take a moment and imagine that one adult responsibility you loathe the most. Now multiply that by 42, and that’s about how much landlords dread preparing for a Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) Hearing.
From a landlord’s perspective, RTB hearings are required for several reasons, including a tenant not paying rent, a tenant causing noise issues, and a tenant causing damage to the unit. On the flip side, the tenant can request an RTB hearing if they believe the landlord has reduced their services for something their rent should include, or for not adhering to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA). E.g. Important notices given without enough notice, or not completing required repairs.
Due to past experiences, we know the RTB does not recognize grey areas or situations where “it could/should be.” They respect and rule only with hard facts. Knowing that, and the amount of time required to prepare for a hearing, when we are asked, we only advise proceeding with an RTB Hearing if you have concrete proof that the RTA has been breached.
It is important to understand that the RTB expects that the landlord (in whatever capacity) must know the RTA rules inside and out. Conversely, it seems that the RTB expects that tenants are not aware of the RTA in as much detail, and are there to help clarify it, and support the tenant’s rights.
It’s important to have a professional on your side when you are thinking about or asked to attend an RTB hearing.
In a nutshell, here is how the hearing process works from start to finish and questions to ask yourself before launching a hearing.
- Confirm – is there something as a landlord that I could have done to mitigate the damage and the reason for being here today?
- If yes, do not proceed
- If no, then proceed
- Submit a claim with RTB
- Here you will need to pay a filing fee to start the process
- Include all evidence of the situation
- Include a summary
- This is where you need to explain the situation in detail, why you could not mitigate it and why you feel you deserve whatever you are seeking.
- Include historical information of the Tenancy
- When they started
- Their rent
- Their deposit
- Who lives there
- How you notified them previously with all the warnings before you got to this point
The Hearing Packages we have submitted average 60+ pages. From there, the tenant has a chance to respond with rebuttal information.
Regardless of how time-sensitive you feel your issue is, the RTB usually has hearings scheduled for 3-4 months after you submit your claim. It is common that tenants’ claims are heard faster.
Once the hearing date has been set, here are the preparation steps:
- You must be prepared with all information you have submitted, received and responded to.
- A good rule to follow: once you feel you have enough evidence to support your claim, get more.
- The Arbitrator will have you confirm all tenancy information and your relationship.
- Depending on who submitted the claim, you may get to go first or respond.
- It is not a conversation. It is clearly stated that one side speaks, then the other.
- All questions must be answered immediately, without delay.
Once both sides have been heard and the hearing is adjourned, the Arbitrator will review further details and a decision will be mailed out within 2-3 weeks after the hearing. (Unless both parties can come to a solution during the hearing.)
In our decades of work, we consider ourselves fortunate to only have been called to half a dozen hearings. Rest assured, even though it is a timely and tedious process, we are always here to advocate for you as Property Managers.
Your Investment. Our Priority.