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5.6 Preparing for Dispute Resolution

Yes, this can be a great idea.  You may not get to fully explain your side of the story during the actual dispute resolution hearing, so it can be helpful to provide the arbitrator with a written submission of your argument.  This is your chance to clearly communicate what you want the arbitrator to decide, and how the law and evidence supports your argument.

For more information on how to prepare a strong application for dispute resolution, see TRAC’s webpages on Dispute Resolution.

During your tenancy, you should always be concerned about gathering evidence because you never know when you may have to go to a dispute resolution hearing. Evidence is anything that supports your side of the story.  Your personal statement about what happened is evidence, but you are probably going to need more than that to win. Here are some examples of evidence:

  • photographs, videos and audio recordings
  • written or verbal statements from witnesses
  • an affidavit, or sworn statement
  • government orders issued against your landlord
  • written communication between you and your landlord, and
  • your journal with relevant notes and a timeline of events

When gathering evidence, try to think about quality over quantity.  Good evidence is relevant, reliable, authentic, complete and legible.  This means that you should gather and submit as much evidence as possible, but only if it relates to the matter being disputed.  And, you should do your best to ensure that your evidence comes from a trustworthy source, and has been well prepared.

That’s a difficult question to answer.  If you or your landlord is legally required to put something in writing, such as an official Residential Tenancy Branch form, it is best to avoid email, text messaging and social media, since those are not accepted methods of giving or serving documents according to the Residential Tenancy Act.  For example, a landlord is not allowed to attach an eviction notice to an email.  That would not be accepted as evidence at dispute resolution.

There may be other times when something is not required to be put in writing by law – for example, a request that your landlord make repairs.  In these instances, emails, texts and social media messages may be considered acceptable evidence for dispute resolution.  The important thing to remember is to have proof that your electronic communication was actually delivered.  If your landlord acknowledges your emails, texts or social media messages by responding, then that is good evidence that they received your communication.

If you and your landlord both agree to communicate using email, text messaging or social media, you may want to include a term in your tenancy agreement stating your mutual willingness to use those methods of communication.

Hopefully by now you've realized the importance of staying organized and keeping a record of what happens during your tenancy. On the next page and in the Resources section, you will find a Tenant’s Journal that can help you create a paper trail of noteworthy events and communication with your landlord.