Prepare for your hearing
Types of hearings
All Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) hearings will be scheduled to take place by telephone. Parties participating in a hearing have the responsibility to ensure the RTDRS office has a current telephone number.
You will be called by the Tenancy Dispute Officer at the phone number that is provided to the RTDRS prior to the hearing. If you cannot be contacted at that phone number at the time of the hearing, contact RTDRS well before the hearing and provide the correct number.
See RTDRS Telephone Hearing Tips for more information.
If a party to an application prefers to have the hearing conducted in-person, in either the Edmonton or Calgary RTDRS office location, they must:
- obtain the consent of the other party, and
- make this request to the Tenancy Dispute Officer at the telephone hearing
If the Tenancy Dispute Officer determines the hearing will be conducted in-person, they will adjourn the hearing to another date.
When attending a hearing in person in, please appear at least 15 minutes before the hearing start time at the chosen RTDRS office location.
How to prepare for a hearing
- Attend or be ready for your hearing on time.
- The applicant and respondent must both be available at the scheduled start time and for 90 minutes after the start time to accommodate for any delays.
- If your hearing is by telephone, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will call the applicant and respondent at the telephone numbers that the:
- applicant provided on the application form, or
- respondent provided to the RTDRS office
- If, at any time, you need to add or change the hearing representative details on an upcoming case you can do so by leaving a voice message at phone: 403-297-8550 at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date.
- Ensure you state the case number, who you are representing, and the name and contact information of the representative in the message. You may also complete the Add/Change a Hearing Representative form and submit it to the RTDRS for changes being made for more than 2 days before the hearing date.
- Witnesses must attend or be ready for the hearing on time.
- Be sure to have the correct telephone number for the witness in advance.
- Review the evidence, information and documents that you provided to RTDRS and the other party prior to the hearing.
- Have the documents (for example, the Application Package, additional evidence, defence evidence) with you as you will be required to refer to the documents during the hearing.
Connecting to a telephone hearing
The telephone call for your hearing may come from an “Unknown” or “RTDRS” telephone number. Ensure your telephone will accept the phone call from RTDRS by turning off any call blocking/spam features you may have selected.
Check the application well before the date of the hearing to make sure that your phone number is listed correctly. If not, update your telephone number for an upcoming hearing by calling 403-297-8550. Leave a message with your case number, full name and telephone number.
The Tenancy Dispute Officer will tell you what to do if you are disconnected, which is usually to hang up and they will call you back.
- The Tenancy Dispute Officer manages the hearing process and will follow the process outlined in the RTDRS Telephone Hearing tip sheet. However, they may alter the process to suit the case before them.
- All parties participating in the hearing are expected to conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner.
- Anyone who displays disruptive, disrespectful or threatening behaviour may be required to leave the hearing.
- The Tenancy Dispute Officer will give verbal reasons for their decision to both parties plus a written order at the end of the hearing.
- If the matter is more complicated the Tenancy Dispute Officer may decide to reserve their decision. This means that they will contact the parties (in person, by telephone or by mail) within 30 days to give them their decision (verbal or written) and a written order.
If you are unable to attend a hearing
If you do not attend the hearing, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may conduct the hearing without you and an order may be granted in your absence. The order may have serious consequences for you.
You may choose to have a representative attend the hearing on your behalf. However, the best evidence will come from the people who have first hand information about the events in question.
‘Adjourn’ or ‘adjournment’ is the legal word for delaying the hearing and re-scheduling it to a later date.
A hearing may be re-scheduled if the Application Package has not been served on the respondent or if all parties consent to the re-scheduling of the matter. The applicant must advise RTDRS of the need for an adjournment in writing, by fax or email prior to the hearing date and time set out in the Notice of Hearing form.
If the Application Package has not been served
If the original Application Package has not been served on the respondent, RTDRS will change the date and time of the hearing and the applicant will serve the respondent with the new Application Package.
If both parties agree to re-schedule the hearing and RTDRS has been advised:
the applicant has 10 business days from the date of the original hearing to set a new hearing date and time with the RTDRS or the file will be closed
the applicant does not have to re-serve a copy of the new date on the respondent if both parties agree to the re-scheduled time
If both parties cannot agree on the new date and time the applicant must serve the respondent with a copy of the new Notice of Hearing form.
If a party is unable to attend
If a party requests that a hearing be adjourned because they are unable to attend and the opposing party does not consent to the adjournment the hearing will commence at the scheduled time. The person who is unable to attend should send someone on their behalf or appear via teleconference to request an adjournment.
At the discretion of the Tenancy Dispute Officer a party may make a request for an adjournment in writing for consideration. The Tenancy Dispute Officer will then consider the request to adjourn the matter to a later date. If an adjournment is granted, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will set a new date and time for the hearing to commence.
The Tenancy Dispute Officer may also adjourn the hearing to meet a requirement of fairness. For example, if the Application Package was not served properly, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may adjourn the hearing. For more information on the adjournment process, please refer to the RTDRS Rules of Practice and Procedure.
After the hearing, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will render their decision. They typically give verbal reasons for their decision to both parties plus a written order. If the matter is more complicated, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may decide to reserve their decision and provide it in writing within 30 days. Once it is ready, the parties will get a copy of the written decision and the order.
Types of orders
The Tenancy Dispute Officer may issue different orders to suit the situation.
With some exceptions, RTDRS Orders are valid for 10 years.
Order for Possession and/or Judgment
This order may be issued when a landlord applies to:
- terminate (end) the tenancy
- obtain possession of the rental premises
- obtain a judgment for unpaid rent and/or utilities
The Tenancy Dispute Officer has the option to make the order conditional or unconditional. A conditional order means that there are payment terms in the order that the tenant must comply with in order to continue to reside in the premises. See the After the Order Chart for more information.
Order for Judgment
This order may be issued when the landlord or tenant applies for:
- return of security deposit
- unpaid rent and/or utilities
- financial damages due to a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act, the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act or the rental agreement
- compensation for physical damage to the rental premises
- compensation for an over-holding tenant
- compensation for performing the duties of the landlord
- abatement or reduction of rent
This order may be issued when the applicant and the respondent both agree to settle their dispute, either before or during the hearing. If the Tenancy Dispute Officer has no issue with the agreement, they may write that agreement in an order and provide next steps if the agreement is not kept.
This order may be issued if the applicant withdraws their application during the hearing.
Referral to Court Order
This order may be issued if:
- the courts are the best place for the matter to be heard due to the length of the hearing or the complexity of the issues
- the Tenancy Dispute Officer believes that they do not have jurisdiction to hear the application, because:
This order may be issued if:
- the Tenancy Dispute Officer decides that the applicant has not proven their claims against the respondent
- the applicant does not attend the hearing or abandons their application
After you receive your order
Filing the order
After the order is issued, RTDRS will give, email, fax or mail copies of the order to you. The RTDRS order must be filed at the Court of King’s Bench as soon as possible in order to be enforced as a judgment of the Court of King’s Bench. Either RTDRS will file the order directly with the Court, or the applicant may file the order.
Once the order has been filed at the Court of King’s Bench, the applicant must serve a filed copy on the respondent.
Enforcing an order
If your order is for a judgment amount only and the respondent fails to pay you, you can take steps to enforce the judgment amount at the Court of King's Bench. See ‘Getting and Enforcing your Judgment in Alberta’ at the Alberta Courts website.
If the order granted indicates dates and amounts of payment, it is a conditional order and, if the respondent fails to comply with the terms of the order, the applicant may serve the respondent with a Notice of Default. If the respondent fails to vacate or pay the amounts indicated in the order, the applicant may enforce the order at the Court of King’s Bench. The applicant must also contact a Civil Enforcement Agency to enforce possession.
If a respondent does not comply with an order
If the respondent fails to comply with an RTDRS Order, the applicant will need to contact a Civil Enforcement Agency to enforce the order. This can include if:
- the tenant refuses to vacate the property
- the respondent fails to pay the judgment amount after they have been served with an order
If you have concerns about your order
An RTDRS staff member or other government official cannot change or cancel the decision of a Tenancy Dispute Officer. This deference protects the independent decision-making of Tenancy Dispute Officers. However, there are a few actions you can take:
Clerical error or clarification
A clerical error is a typographic, grammatical, arithmetic, or mistaken omission in the order. A clarification may be necessary when a party is not sure how to interpret an order.
If your order contains a clerical error or you need clarification, provide RTDRS with a completed RTDRS Request Form for either an amendment or a clarification. The Tenancy Dispute Officer will review your request. This should be done before filing the order at the Court of King’s Bench, if possible.
A clarification from the Tenancy Dispute Officer may be requested when a party is not sure how to interpret an order.
Under the very limited circumstances listed below, you can make an application to set-aside or vary the order granted.
A Tenancy Dispute Officer may only set aside or vary an order granted:
- if the order was made without notice to one or more of the parties
- if the order was made following a hearing at which a party did not appear because of an accident, a mistake or insufficient notice of the hearing, or
- on other grounds consistent with procedural fairness
If these circumstances apply to your hearing, you may provide the RTDRS with a completed RTDRS Request Form to set aside or vary the order granted. The Tenancy Dispute Officer will review your request. At their discretion, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may stay the existing order pending a new hearing, vary the existing order, or set aside the existing order and issue a new one.
If you believe that the Tenancy Dispute Officer made an error in their decision
If the applicant or respondent believes the Tenancy Dispute Officer made an error of law or jurisdiction they may appeal to the Court of King’s Bench within 30 days of the date that the order is filed.
- An example of an error of law is that the Tenancy Dispute Officer did not interpret the legislation correctly.
- An example of an error of jurisdiction is that the Tenancy Dispute Officer made a decision they are not authorized to make.
Simply disagreeing with the decision is not a valid reason to appeal.
A request to have the Tenancy Dispute Officer set aside or vary an order is not an appeal.
If you have comments or suggestions about the quality of RTDRS services, policies or procedures
The RTDRS Administrator can review the conduct of a Tenancy Dispute Officer in reference to the Code of Conduct. The RTDRS Administrator may also receive feedback about service quality, including:
- issues related to the conduct of other RTDRS staff
- concerns/suggestions regarding RTDRS policies and procedures
Such feedback is considered an opportunity for improvement. The RTDRS Administrator typically completes the review and responds in writing within 30 days.
Reporting a concern
If you believe a clerical error was made in the order, there is need for a clarification, or you have a concern about procedural fairness or service quality, you can submit a request:
- Review the RTDRS Request Process tip sheet. This tip sheet outlines how to raise your concerns and what will happen once it is received.
- Complete the RTDRS Request Form and submit it online, by email, fax, mail or delivery to an RTDRS office. To submit the form online, log into your RTDRS eFiling Service account and upload the form through the My Cases tab.