Prepare for Your Hearing
Dispute resolution is a formal process for resolving disputes between landlords and tenants – similar to a court proceeding. It's important to prepare well to present your case.
Once your application is processed, the next important step is serving the Notice of Dispute Resolution Proceeding Package to each respondent.
Evidence should be well-organized and put into the order that it will be presented at the hearing.
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. If the application is requesting money from another party, you should submit a Monetary Order Worksheet (PDF) 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.
Parties to a dispute should prepare their presentation before the hearing. They should make notes about how they will tell their story and the order in which they will present evidence. For example:
- “The tenant had loud parties January 10, 17, 18 and 23. I gave written warnings on January 11, 18 and 19. On January 21, I gave an eviction notice. I have copies of the documents and witnesses to describe the disruptive parties.”
- “The security door was damaged on March 5. I gave three notes to the landlord asking him to fix it. I have a witness to confirm that the door is damaged and has not been fixed. I also have photographs of the damage.”
Witnesses must have first-hand information about the dispute – not just opinions or what someone else has told them. Witnesses should be prepared – make sure to discuss with them the points they will make when giving evidence. For example, other tenants may be invited to testify about the dates and times of loud and disruptive parties or their concern about an unsafe building.
Make sure witnesses know the date and time of the hearing and ask them to be available to testify. If a witness can’t be available for the hearing they can provide a written statement or an affidavit that has been sworn before a notary, a lawyer, or a commissioner of oaths
Witnesses will only participate in the hearing when they’re called upon to provide evidence. In a conference call hearing, they cannot be within hearing range of the call until they’re invited to give evidence.
Either party may have an agent or lawyer to represent them or an advocate to assist them. Parties may also use translators or any other person whose assistance they require in the hearing.
Parties using agents, lawyers, advocates, assistants or translators are responsible for any related fees.
Parties who are deaf or hard of hearing may request an American Sign Language interpreter. The Residential Tenancy Branch will set up the interpreting service and pay the fee. Requests for assistance from an American Sign Language interpreter should be made as soon as possible so that services can be scheduled.
Parties who are represented by an advocate or agent, or require an assistant or translator, must ensure they are available for the date and time of the dispute resolution hearing. The arbitrator will not necessarily adjourn the hearing if a representative or translator is not in attendance.
Agent: Someone who appears at a hearing on behalf of a landlord or tenant – often a friend, family member, property manager or a member of the landlord’s staff. They have permission to speak, act and settle a claim on behalf of the tenant or landlord. Written permission from the party they’re representing is required if the party is not present at the hearing.
Advocate: A person who supports the landlord or tenant by offering advice, attending the hearing and providing assistance with presenting their case. Generally, an advocate is not named as a party to the hearing and an order is not made against the advocate. Some advocates are community-based legal advocates who have specific training in residential tenancy laws and procedures. Written permission from the party they’re representing is required if the party is not present at the hearing.
Assistant: Someone who provides help during the hearing – usually someone like a translator, interpreter, helper or family member. This role is not intended to speak on behalf of a party, though, they can repeat statements made by the person they’re assisting to help make them understood. For example, an assistant may help by translating the proceedings into another language, or they may help a person with disabilities better understand what’s happening. Wherever possible, assistants should not also be a witness at the hearing.
Note: If an agent, advocate or assistant needs to give testimony as a witness at the hearing, please let the arbitrator know this at the beginning of the hearing. They will be called before other witnesses so that their evidence is not influenced by the other testimony.
It’s not common for parties to be represented by lawyers because the dispute resolution process is designed so that people can represent themselves.
You are allowed to have a lawyer if you want one. Coordination with a lawyer needs to be done before your hearing and you are responsible for paying any fees charged. Legal fees cannot be claimed as part of an application for dispute resolution.
A summons is an official order from an arbitrator that requires a person to attend a hearing to give evidence or to produce documents. A summons will only be issued if the information cannot be obtained in any other way. It’s a good idea to ask the person who has the evidence for it, before asking for a summons.
Either party can request a summons in writing and submit it with their application or as soon as possible afterwards.
The person requesting the summons must pay the reasonable costs of the party summoned to appear or to give evidence. Learn more about summons and compensation for witnesses in our policy guideline.
The content on this website is periodically reviewed and updated by the Province of British Columbia as per the date noted on each page: September 23, 2017.