Talking it Over

Communication is the key to avoiding and resolving problems. If there’s a problem during the tenancy, the first step is usually to talk with the landlord or the tenant before taking further action. Even if it takes more than one discussion, keeping the conversation going shows your interest in finding a solution.

Solving Problems by Talking

Many problems come up because someone doesn’t realize they’ve broken the tenancy agreement or they don’t know their rights or responsibilities. Discussions about the tenancy agreement together will ensure understanding and help build a good landlord and tenant relationship.

The first thing to do when there’s a problem is talk with your landlord or tenant about it – the sooner you do, the easier it can be to resolve. The best results come from taking the time to discuss a problem and explore options suitable for both parties. This approach also avoids the dispute resolution process – which means it’s more flexible, takes less time and costs less, too.

Know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord or a tenant:

Use these tips for the best outcome:

  • Let the other party know what the problem is
  • Have a goal in mind that will be a good solution for both parties
  • Meet face-to-face in a place where you won’t be interrupted and you will both feel safe
  • Discuss the issue thoroughly
  • Be respectful of the other party and their point of view
  • Keep a record of your conversations: who you talked to, when, where and what was said
  • Follow up with the other party in writing

If the situation isn’t urgent and you can’t agree, it might be helpful to take a break for a day or two, or get someone to help mediate, like a mutual friend or an advocate.

Write a Letter

If discussing the problem doesn't resolve it, consider writing a letter to the other party. Keep to the facts in your letter and include things like:

  • How the problem is affecting the tenancy
  • How long the problem has existed
  • What you have done to try to fix the problem or limit its effects
  • What you would like the other party to do, and by when

It’s a good idea to send any written communication in a way that can be confirmed, like faxing or using registered mail – remember to keep a copy for yourself.

Allow Time

Give the other party time to fix the problem. How long depends on the problem – serious problems should be addressed as soon as possible.

Ask for Help

The Residential Tenancy Branch can provide information to help with this process.

Apply for Dispute Resolution

If the problem can’t be resolved by discussion, negotiation and compromise, you may need to use the formal process for dispute resolution. Let the other party know you intend to apply – this can sometimes trigger interest in reaching a mutual agreement.

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.

Contact the Residential Tenancy Branch