Preparing Evidence

In a hearing it’s a important to have evidence to support your case. Evidence can be any type of proof presented by the parties at a dispute resolution proceeding in support of their case, including:

  • Written documents, such as the tenancy agreement, letters, printed copies of emails, receipts, pictures and the sworn or unsworn statements of the witnesses
  • Photographs, video recordings or audio recordings
  • Oral statements of the parties or witnesses that may be given under oath or affirmation

Physical objects such as a piece of carpet or a light bulb should not be submitted as evidence and will not be accepted. When odours are an issue, witness statements may be helpful.

Some evidence must be submitted with the application.  For example, if the application is to obtain an order of possession or to cancel a notice to end tenancy, the notice to end tenancy must be submitted with the application.  Submit evidence along with your application or as soon as possible afterwards. Provide copies of evidence to the other party as soon as possible.

Submit evidence along with your application or as soon as possible. Copies of all evidence must be given to each of the other parties and the Residential Tenancy Branch not less than 14 days before the hearing. The respondent must ensure the applicant and the Residential Tenancy Branch receive all evidence as soon as possible, and not less than 7 days before the hearing.

Specifically, the following documents must be submitted with an application to be used as evidence:

Calculating Timelines

When calculating the due date, do not count:

  • The day a person, business or the Residential Tenancy Branch receives the documents
  • The day of the hearing

If the last possible date for it to be received falls on a day that a business is not open, the last possible date becomes the next date that the business is open.

Requirements

All evidence must be relevant, reliable, authentic, complete and legible.

Relevant evidence relates directly to the issues identified on the application for dispute resolution. For example, a photograph of a stained carpet would be relevant when the dispute is over the cost of cleaning or replacing the carpet. The same photograph wouldn’t be relevant for a dispute over unpaid rent.

Reliable evidence is an accurate representation of events that hasn’t been distorted. When in doubt, ask: “How good is this as a source of information about the event?”

Authentic evidence is proof that is exactly the same as the original. For example, a digital photograph is considered as authentic if the copies are the same as the original. The photo can also be authenticated by the testimony of the person who took it – they may be asked to also confirm when and where it was taken.

Complete evidence provides as much information as possible about the event or situation. For example a video showing the condition of a rental unit might begin at the front door and show the unit number. The audio commentary might say, “This recording was made by Jo Smith, tenant, on June 1, 2012, as I was taking part in the condition inspection of apartment 303, 1234 Any Street, Mytown B.C.

Legible evidence should be readable, clear and easy to understand. For example, it should be obvious from an image what’s being shown – they should not require interpretation or explanation. Photos submitted by fax are usually not useful.

Digital Evidence

Digital evidence includes photographs, audio recordings or video recordings on an electronic device. Printed photos are acceptable if they are not submitted on a digital device. Paper documents, receipts, written agreements and invoices will not be considered when submitted digitally.

The printed version of evidence is relied on at a hearing when it’s submitted alongside a digital version. For example, if an audio recording and a transcript of a conversation are submitted, the arbitrator will refer to the transcript when making a decision. The audio recording is used for sensing the tone of the interaction or reviewing specifically what was said.

The following procedure must be used for submitting digital evidence:

Submit a digital copy of all evidence files as soon as possible, and in any event, within the requirements for submitting evidence, to the Residential Tenancy Branch and the other party on a USB memory stick, CD or DVD. These devices will not be returned.  To ensure privacy is protected, sharing evidence via web applications that are widely accessible is not permitted – this includes apps like YouTube, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa or WikiAlbums.

Ensure access to the files – the other party and the Residential Tenancy Branch must be able to view or play back the evidence.

Provide a printed written description of the digital evidence along with an index or table of contents to the other party and the Residential Tenancy Branch. For example:

  • A photograph could be described as “Applicant photo 1 – Living room, taken during move-in condition inspection, June 1, 2013”
  • A video could be described as: “Respondent video at time code 21:02 – Using the kitchen faucet to turn on hot water, September 12, 2012”
  • An audio recording might be described as: “Applicant audio recording 2 at time code 34:00: voicemail message from landlord about intended entry into suite, 2 PM, March 4, 2013”
  • Complete the Digital Evidence Details form (PDF)

The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: July 15, 2016.