5.1 Problem Solving
It is not uncommon for disputes to arise between landlords and tenants. In order to resolve disputes, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities, and to know how to communicate effectively with your landlord. When you come across an issue during your tenancy, try to put your concerns in writing to your landlord as soon as possible.
When faced with problems that can’t be resolved through communication, you may need to apply for dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch. Dispute resolution is a legal proceeding, but different than court. Hearings are occasionally held in person or in writing, but they are most commonly conducted over the phone. Dispute resolution is also more affordable than court. The standard application fee is $100, and low income tenants may not have to pay the fee at all. Furthermore, while dispute resolution is by no means easy, most tenants do not require the assistance of a lawyer in order to participate.
The person who runs a dispute resolution hearing, an “arbitrator”, acts similarly to a judge. They have the task of conducting the hearing, weighing the evidence, applying the law, and making a decision. Following the hearing, both the tenant and landlord are expected to follow the arbitrator’s orders. If you disagree with what the arbitrator decided, you may appeal, or challenge, the decision through the Residential Tenancy Branch or BC Supreme Court.