Many residents in Metro Vancouver, including in the Tri-Cities, are renters. And many of the people they rent from are private homeowners.

Often tenancy relationships go smoothly, but there are times they don’t—whether it’s a dispute over rent increases, failure to make repairs, unpaid rent, or eviction.

If discussion between you and your landlord or you and your tenant are going sideways, you can take your tenancy issue to the province for dispute resolution, with or without the help of a lawyer. However, before you go this route, there are a few facts to know.

 

1.The role of the Residential Tenancy Branch

The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is the agency of the British Columbia provincial government responsible for dealing with landlord-tenant issues.

2. The nature of dispute resolutions

A dispute resolution is a formal process overseen by the RTB that is similar to a court proceeding. However, the hearing is presided over by an arbitrator rather than a judge.

3. You’ve got a two-year time frame

Either party, whether landlord or renter, often has two years after the tenancy agreement ends to file a claim with the RTB. The timelines, however, are much shorter if you are being evicted. Speak to a lawyer or someone at the RTB immediately if you receive an eviction notice.

4. It is difficult to overturn a RTB decision

A dispute resolution is not appealed like a usual court case. They can be clarified or corrected, but reviews of the arbitrator’s decisions are rare. If you think there is a problem with the decision you can have a judge look at the decision through a process called “judicial review” that is expensive and time consuming. Therefore, it is important to fully prepare your case before your hearing.

5. You can have a lawyer

To help you prepare for your dispute resolution, you can engage a lawyer who specializes in residential tenancy law. A lawyer will help gather evidence, prepare your story, and help you make your best case, before you go to your hearing.