Tenancy dispute resolution

Last updated on January 31, 2024

Dispute resolution is the formal process to resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants. It should be the last step in dealing with a tenancy conflict if you're unable to work out a tenancy issue.

Tenants must keep paying their rent, even if they're going through a dispute resolution process.

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Choose the right process

There are 3 types of dispute resolution processes:

1. Direct request

The direct request process is used for disputes in specific situations only.

The tenancy issue must fit into narrow eligibility requirements. 

Eligibility requirements

The direct request situations are when:

  • Tenants have not received their security or pet deposit after moving out
  • Landlords want to apply for an order of posession or a monetary order

Issues are resolved through written submissions alone. The adjudicator reviews the written evidence, makes a decision, and sends a decision to both parties. There is no hearing to attend. 

Find out more about direct requests.

2. Participatory hearing

Landlords and tenants can apply for the participatory hearing process when they cannot resolve a dispute on their own and cannot apply for a direct request to resolve their issue.

There is no specific wait time for dispute resolution cases to be heard. They change depending on the volume and type of applications.

During the hearing, both the landlord and the tenant will be invited to share their side of the dispute with the arbitrator and show evidence to support their case.  After the hearing, the arbitrator will make a decision both parties must follow.

Find out more about a participatory hearing.

3. Expedited hearing

Expedited hearings are for emergency issues when it is unfair for the applicant to wait for a regular hearing. These types of hearings are considered urgent, so the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) responds faster and hearings are scheduled sooner.

The RTB tries to schedule expedited hearings within 12 days from the date the application is made. In urgent situations the RTB may schedule a hearing within 6 days.

Only specific situations qualify for an expedited hearing.

Expedited hearings are usually for:

  • A landlord's application for an early end to the tenancy when the tenant has committed a very serious breach of the Residential Tenancy Act
  • An order of possession for a tenant
  • Emergency repairs for health and safety issues with specific conditions

Find out more about an expedited hearing.

Review Expedited Hearings: Residential Tenancy Policy Guideline 51 (PDF, 183KB)


Do your research before applying for dispute resolution

Before applying for dispute resolution, review tenancy laws to check if your tenancy issue is covered.

If you're not sure if your issue is covered, you can apply for dispute resolution and an arbitrator will look over the facts and make a legal decision.

Types of tenancy laws covered

Your dispute must be covered by the:

For more information, review starting a tenancy.

Types of tenancies

To find out more about which laws apply to your tenancy, review types of rental housing situations.

Monetary claim limit

If you want to make a monetary claim, your request must be for $35,000 or less.

Be prepared for the outcome

Anticipate and plan for what might happen after the hearing. The resolution of a dispute may or may not be in your favour. Consider that the dispute resolution process might change your relationship with your landlord or tenant, and make plans to ensure your future safety and security.


Check if your issue is covered under a different jurisdiction

There are other tribunals or courts that settle disputes related to tenancy that are not within RTB’s jurisdiction.

Human rights complaint

The BC Human Rights Tribunal deals with human rights complaints under section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code.

  • Discrimination in tenancy premises

Monetary claims over $35,000

The BC Supreme Court deals with monetary claims over the RTB’s limit of $35,000. There is one exception to this:

  • If you are claiming 12 months’ rent as compensation under section 51(2) or 51.3 of the RTA, you can apply to the RTB even if the total compensation exceeds $35,000

Disputes between roommates

The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) deals with issues with another tenant or occupant who you live with. Claim amounts are up to $5,000.

Disputes not covered under RTB

Small Claims BC deals with disputes not covered under RTB and exceeding the limit at the CRT. It does not deal with damage deposits.

This court also deals with the enforcement of monetary compensation awarded through the RTB when a landlord refuses to pay. This is for claims between $5,001 and $35,000.

Personal information

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC (OIPC) deals with concerns about your landlord’s collection of personal information.


How to apply

You can apply online or by submitting a paper application.

You need a BCeID

You need a basic BCeID account to access the Online Application for Dispute Resolution. Getting a basic BCeID account is a simple process and provides secure access to online government services.

You only need to provide your first and last name and an email address. You'll be able to choose a user ID and a password. 

Register for a basic BCeID 

You may already have a BCeID if you access services like:

 


Hearing outcomes

At the end of a hearing, the arbitrator or adjudicator issues a decision. The decision must be followed by both parties. The arbitrator may also issue an order to make sure the decision is followed. If an order is issued, the successful party goes through an enforcement process to ensure that the decision is followed.

In some cases, the arbitrator might help both parties come to a settlement agreement. In this case, the arbitrator would issue a decision that lays out the terms of the settlement agreement.

There are several types of arbitration outcomes:

  • An order of possession for landlord (eviction) gives the landlord possession of the rental unit
  • An order of possession for tenant gives the tenant possession of the rental unit
  • A monetary order instructs a person to pay another person a specific amount of money
  • An order of compliance instructs a person to complete a specific task, such as a repair to the rental unit
  • A settlement agreement
  • The application could be dismissed with or without instructions to re-apply
  • insight into what's likely to happen if you submit an application.

Past hearing decisions

Search past decisions to get insight into what's likely to happen if you submit an application for dispute resolution.


Enforce your order

If you are the successful party, you must get your order enforced. Depending on the type of order, you will have to go to the correct authority:

Order of Possession

Monetary Order

For more information, review Serve and enforce orders.


Resources

Apply Online for Dispute Resolution

Information on how to apply online for dispute resolution

 


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