The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) offers landlords and tenants a method of resolving disputes under the jurisdiction of the Residential Tenancies Act and the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act without going to court.
Landlords and tenants can submit applications online using the RTDRS eFiling Service.
- RTDRS offices are temporarily closed to the public
- RTDRS conducts all hearings by phone
Information on what landlords and tenants can apply for is found in the RTDRS eligibility section.
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Disputes resolved before the hearing
If you have resolved your claim before the hearing, there are a couple of options:
- The applicant may withdraw their application by sending the RTDRS a Notice of Withdrawal (PDF, 105 KB) form. You should also advise the respondent that you have done this.
- The applicant can choose to continue the process. The applicant and respondent may attend the hearing and tell the Tenancy Dispute Officer at the beginning of the hearing that they have resolved the dispute.
The RTDRS does not refund fees for withdrawn matters.
If the resolution is acceptable to the Tenancy Dispute Officer, they may issue a Consent Order. This order documents the agreement and is signed by the applicant and respondent. It also outlines next steps if the agreement is not kept, so that the applicant and respondent do not have to make another application or attend another hearing.
The Notice of Hearing form will tell you the type of hearing that the Tenancy Dispute Officer will conduct (in-person or by telephone). The Notice of Hearing form gives the date, time and location of the hearing.
Types of hearings
Most hearings will take place by telephone. Parties participating in a hearing by telephone have the responsibility to ensure the RTDRS office has a current telephone number.
The Notice of Hearing form confirms when a RTDRS hearing is a telephone hearing and explains that 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.
When attending a hearing in person in Edmonton, please appear at least 15 minutes before the hearing start time at the RTDRS Edmonton office.
When attending a hearing in person in Calgary, please appear at least 15 minutes before the hearing start time at the RTDRS Calgary office.
What happens at the hearing
The Tenancy Dispute Officer manages the hearing process. 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 room or may be disconnected from the teleconference.
The Tenancy Dispute Officer will follow the process outlined in the Hearing Procedure Chart but may alter that process to suit the case before them.
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.
You may attend by telephone, or have a representative appear on your behalf. If the hearing was scheduled as an in-person hearing and you must attend by telephone, it must be arranged with the RTDRS at least one hour prior to the hearing start time.
If you do not attend the hearing, the hearing may still proceed and an order may be granted in your absence. The order may have serious consequences for you.
‘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 the RTDRS of this 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 Application Package has not been served on the respondent, the 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 the 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 will not be required 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 may adjourn the hearing. For more information on the adjournment process, please refer to the RTDRS Rules of Practice and Procedure.
Connecting to a telephone hearing
You should remain available for the phone call from the Tenancy Dispute Officer for 90 minutes from the hearing start time. The telephone call for your hearing may come from an “Unknown” or “Government of Alberta” telephone number. Please ensure that your phone is able to accept that call.
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.
Cell phones are discouraged because they are prone to connection and disconnection problems.
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.
Preparing for your hearing
Be sure to attend your hearing on time, plan on arriving 15 minutes early. If your hearing is by telephone, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will call the applicant and respondent at the telephone numbers the applicant provided on the application form or that the respondent provided to the RTDRS office. 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 you have witnesses that will be giving testimony at the hearing you should advise them of the date, time and location of the hearing. If a witness is attending by telephone, be sure to have the correct telephone number for the witness in advance. Prepare for your case by going through your evidence and being familiar with the information and documents that you provided to the RTDRS and the other party prior to the hearing.
Remember to have your documents (for example, your Application Package, additional evidence, defence evidence) with you as you may be required to refer to them during the hearing.
After the hearing
After the hearing, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will render their decision. They will 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. The parties will be contacted subsequent to the hearing to receive the written decision and the order once they are complete.
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. Please 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 Tenancy Dispute Officer believes that they do not have jurisdiction to hear the application, because the application involves a dispute that is not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act or the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act or it involves issues of constitutional law, human rights or other issues that a Tenancy Dispute Officer is not authorized to decide. An application to the RTDRS may also be referred to the courts if the anticipated duration of the hearing or if the degree of complexity of the issues is such that the courts are the best place for the matter to be heard. RTDRS is set up to be an expedient service that is accessible by self-represented parties, whereas the courts are better suited to hear complex issues of law or fact.
This order may be issued when the Tenancy Dispute Officer decides that the applicant has not proven their claims against the respondent. This order may also be issued when the applicant does not attend the hearing or abandons their application.
After you receive your order
After the order is issued, the RTDRS will give, email, fax or mail copies of the order to you. The RTDRS order is required to be filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench in order to be enforced as a judgment of the Court of Queen’s Bench. Either RTDRS will file the order directly with the Court, or the applicant may file the order but, either way, it is recommended the order be filed as soon as possible. Once the order has been filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench, the applicant must serve a filed copy on the respondent.
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 Queen's Bench. See ‘Getting and Enforcing your Judgment in Alberta’ page 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 (PDF, 90 KB). If the respondent fails to vacate or pay the amounts indicated in the order the applicant may enforce the order at the Court of Queen's Bench. The applicant should also contact a Civil Enforcement Agency to enforce possession. A list of Civil Enforcement Agencies can be found in the yellow pages under “Civil Enforcement” or search the internet for civil enforcement agencies in your area.
If a tenant does not comply with an order
If the tenant 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
A list of Civil Enforcement Agencies can be found in the yellow pages under “Civil Enforcement” or search the internet for civil enforcement agencies in your area.
For information on enforcing the Order at the Court of Queen’s Bench, see Getting and Enforcing your Judgment in Alberta at the Alberta Courts website.
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 the RTDRS with a completed RTDRS Request Form (PDF, 151 KB) 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 Queen’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 limited circumstances, 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 (PDF, 151 KB) 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
A request to have the Tenancy Dispute Officer set aside or vary an order is not an appeal. If the applicant or respondent believes the Tenancy Dispute Officer made an error of law or jurisdiction they may appeal to the Court of Queen’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.
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 and 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 (PDF, 151 KB) 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.