How Are Residential Tenancy Disputes Dealt With in Alberta?
In Alberta, landlord/tenant disputes used to be litigated through the courts, usually at great expense to both parties. However, Alberta has now implemented a program specifically for the resolution of these disputes called the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS). Instead of filing a civil claim, either party can now make an application pursuant to the Alberta Residential Tenancy Act to have their claims resolved by the RTDRS. The implementation of the RTDRS has helped facilitate access to justice by providing an affordable way to deal with landlord/tenant disputes, without the need for litigation.
How Does the RTDRS Process Work?
The party bringing the application (“the Applicant”) must bring an application within 2 years of the date that the claim arose. Currently, the cost of filing an application is $75.00. Similar to Provincial Court, the RTDRS can only accept applications of up to $50,000.00. The applicant is responsible for serving the claim and accompanying documents on the other party (“the Respondent”), as well as providing copies to the RTDRS.
Once the application is filed, the RTDRS will contact both parties and set a date, time and location for the hearing. Hearings may also be done via telephone. During the hearing, a Tenancy Dispute Officer will conduct the hearing pursuant to the rules of the RTDRS Rules of Conduct. The Officer will listen to both sides, review the evidence, and issue a decision that is binding on both parties.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The RTDRS is largely designed for self-represented litigants. You do not need a lawyer to bring the application for you, or to attend the hearing. However, it is important to keep in mind that the decision made by the Tenancy Dispute Officer is binding, and can only be appealed by filing an application in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Since these decisions can have a profound impact on the rights of the parties and are made based on the evidence presented, it is a good idea to have a lawyer review your case before proceeding. Furthermore, although the RTDRS is designed to be straightforward, it is still governed by a specific set of rules and limitations dates. A lawyer can help you navigate the process, and ensure you are in compliance with your obligations under the RTDRS process.