Overview

Once you receive the Application Package, you must serve it on the respondent. ‘Serve’ is the legal word for delivering a legal notice to another party.

After you file your application with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS), you will be given an Application Package which includes:

  • the Notice of Hearing form, which includes the date, time and location of the hearing
  • application form
  • evidence

You must serve the Application Package on the respondent(s) at least 3 clear days before the hearing date. This doesn’t include:

  • date of service
  • date of hearing
  • weekends
  • holidays

For example, if your hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, service must be completed no later than the previous Wednesday.

See the Document Service Tip Sheet for detailed information on how to serve an RTDRS Application Package.

You should serve a copy of the Application Package on each respondent.

The only methods of service accepted by the RTDRS are mentioned below, unless a Tenancy Dispute Officer approves of an alternate method (e.g. by regular mail, placing the documents in a mailbox or under the door). See "If you're unsuccessful serving documents" for more information.

The Tenancy Dispute Officer decides whether or not the service requirements have been met.

Service requirements

Landlords

Landlords can serve documents in one of the following ways:

Personal service

You can serve the tenants or non-tenant occupants by giving the Application Package to them personally.

You must make several attempts to serve the Application Package. The service attempts should be on different days and at different times throughout the days (morning, afternoon and evenings, if necessary).

Keep a note of the dates, times and locations that you attempted to serve the Application Package. You will need this when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Landlord form (PDF, 144 KB). If you are unable to serve the tenant personally at the rental premises you can serve them personally at any location.

By registered mail

You can serve the Application Package on the tenants or non-tenant occupants by registered mail.

Send it to the rental premises address. Keep all receipts and tracking numbers.

Service is completed on the date the respondent signs for the registered mail. You will need all of this information when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Landlord form (PDF, 144 KB)

To an adult or posted in plain sight

If you believe that the tenant is evading your service attempts or is absent from the premises, you may:

  • serve an adult (18 years of age or older) who appears to live with the tenant
  • post the Application Package in plain sight on the rental premises (such as a door used often by the tenants)

When posting the Application Package, you must post a copy of the package for each tenant named as a respondent.

At the registered office address

If the tenant is a corporation, you can serve the Application Package at the registered office address as shown on a corporate registration search. Contact the RTDRS for more ways to serve a corporation.

Tenants

Tenants can serve documents in one of the following ways:

Personal service

You can serve the Application Package on the landlord by giving it to them personally at any location.

By registered mail

You can serve the landlord by registered mail at:

  • the address where you pay rent
  • the address in the Notice of Landlord that was given to you by the landlord
  • the address in the Notice of Landlord posted at the rental premises by the landlord

Remember to keep all receipts and tracking numbers.

Service is completed on the date the landlord signs for the registered mail. You will need all of this information when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Tenant form (PDF, 140 KB) form.

At the registered office address

If the landlord is a corporation, you can serve the Application Package at the registered office address as shown on a corporate registration search. Contact RTDRS for more ways to serve a corporation.

If you are unsuccessful serving documents

If the tenant no longer lives at the residential premises, posting documents on the premises is not considered proper service. You may still serve the tenant in person at any location. You may also attempt service by registered mail to the tenant’s last known address (the residential premises) as the registered mail might be forwarded to a new address.

The Tenancy Dispute Officer does not have the authority to force a party to provide a physical address.

We recommend that you make several personal service attempts on different days and times (mornings, afternoons and evenings). You must prove to the Tenancy Dispute Officer that your service attempts were made practically with sincere intentions.

If you have not been successful after several reasonable attempts to serve the respondent(s), you may apply to the RTDRS to serve the documents another way. This is called ‘substitutional service.’

You must complete an Affidavit in Support of Substitutional Service (PDF, 133 KB) form in which you list your attempts at service, request approval to serve another way and explain why you believe it will work. A Tenancy Dispute Officer will review the request and make a decision.

The form is also available at the RTDRS offices in Edmonton and Calgary. Take the completed form to a Commissioner for Oaths. The RTDRS has Commissioners available in our offices if you are in Edmonton or Calgary. If you filed your application online, you may have the affidavit commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths. To submit it online, log into your RTDRS eFiling Service account. An Information Officer will contact you once your request has been reviewed by a Tenancy Dispute Officer.

Urgent situations

Normally, a hearing needs to be scheduled with a notice period of 3 clear days to take place. However, in extreme situations such as cases of significant damage to the rental premises, assault or threat of assault, you may apply to reduce the notice period to the respondent. This is called ‘abridgement of service.’

Only the most serious cases will be accepted.

To apply for this, you must:

  1. Fill out an Affidavit in Support of Abridgement of Service (PDF, 153 KB)
    • Include evidence to support your request.
  2. Take the form to a Commissioner for Oaths
    • RTDRS has Commissioners in the Edmonton and Calgary offices.
  3. Submit the form in person or online through your RTDRS eFiling Service account.

The Tenancy Dispute Officer will review the request and make a decision.

Contact us if you have any questions.

After you have served RTDRS documents

After you have served the Application Package on the respondent, you will have to:

  1. Fill out the appropriate Affidavit of Service form
  2. Take the completed Affidavit of Service form to a Commissioner for Oaths to be commissioned.
    • The RTDRS has Commissioner for Oaths in the Edmonton and Calgary offices.
    • If the Application Package was served by registered mail, you must provide the Commissioner the postal receipt with the tracking number and the Signature for Certificate of Delivery Confirmation document (which you can get through a Canada Post office or their website).
  3. File the Affidavit of Service form with the RTDRS
    • You can file the forms before or on the day of the hearing.
    • You can file in-person or online through your RTDRS eFiling Service account.

Disputes resolved before hearing

If you have resolved your claim before the hearing, there are a couple of options:

  1. The applicant may withdraw their application by sending the RTDRS a Notice of Withdrawal form (PDF, 105 KB). You should also advise the respondent that you have done this. The RTDRS does not refund fees for withdrawn matters.
  2. 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.

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.

Filing additional evidence

Additional evidence is evidence that was not submitted at the time of filing the Application Package.

Applicants can submit additional evidence by serving it on the RTDRS and the respondent at least 24 hours (must include one business day) in advance of the hearing. Evidence must be submitted in person, by mail or online through your RTDRS eFiling Service account.

If you do not serve your defence or additional evidence to the other party and the RTDRS at least 24 hours prior to the hearing, your evidence may not be accepted. Alternatively, the matter may be adjourned to a different date to allow everyone to review the evidence.

If you have been served with an RTDRS Application

If you have been served with an RTDRS Application package you must attend the hearing on the date and time indicated on the Notice of Hearing form. If you are unable to attend the hearing in person you can contact the RTDRS office to provide a telephone number that you can be reached at. Alternatively, you may have a representative attend on your behalf. If you or your representative do not attend, the hearing may proceed in your absence and an order may be issued against you. This order may have serious consequences for you.

You can defend yourself in one of three ways:

  1. Provide evidence in defence of the application.
  2. Provide evidence in defence of the application and file a counter-application.
  3. Provide evidence in defence of the application and file an application at a later date.

Attend the hearing on the date and time specified in the Notice of Hearing form. If you are attending in person, plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the designated hearing time.

Only claims in the application before the Tenancy Dispute Officer will be heard. If you are seeking compensation you must file your own application.

Provide evidence in defence of the application

If you have been served with an RTDRS application and do not agree with the claims in the application you should prepare to defend yourself at the RTDRS hearing.

If you have evidence that you want the Tenancy Dispute Officer to review that supports your defence you must provide a copy of the evidence to the RTDRS and to the applicant at least 24 hours (must include one business day) prior to the hearing date. If you do not, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may not accept your evidence at the hearing.

You can submit the defence evidence in person, by mail or online.

Submit your defence evidence online with a RTDRS eFiling Service account. Please contact the RTDRS toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000, then 403-297-2861 or 780-644-4330, for the access code that you will require to verify your account.

Provide evidence in defence of the application and file a counter-application

If you believe you have a claim against the party that filed an application against you and are seeking compensation, you should file a counter-application before your hearing date.

Only claims in the application before the Tenancy Dispute Officer will be heard. If you are seeking compensation you must file your own application.

How to apply

The steps for filing a counter-application are the same as filing a regular application, see How to apply for RTDRS for details on how to file an application.

The counter-application must be served onto the other party the same way that a regular application is served. See “Service” for details on how to serve the other party.

The Tenancy Dispute Officer will hear the application and counter-application in one of these ways:

  • Together on the hearing date of the original application.
  • Together at a later date (the original hearing date will be adjourned to another date so that both applications can be heard at the same time)
  • Separately, on different dates.

The decision will depend on many factors, such as:

  • service requirements
  • time needed for the hearing
  • if the same evidence and witnesses are needed for both applications

If you have evidence that you want the Tenancy Dispute Officer to review that supports your defence you must provide a copy of the evidence to the RTDRS and to the applicant at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date. If you do not, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may not accept your evidence at the hearing.

You can submit the defence evidence in person, by mail or online.

Submit your defence evidence online with a RTDRS eFiling Service account. Please contact the RTDRS toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000, then 403-297-2861 or 780-644-4330, for the access code that you will require to verify your account.

Provide evidence in defence of the application and file an application at a later date

If you have been served with an RTDRS application and you want to defend yourself against the claim and you have a claim against the applicant you can have the application heard on the hearing date and file your own application at a later date. See How to apply for RTDRS for details on how to file an application.

If you have evidence that you want the Tenancy Dispute Officer to review that supports your defence you must provide a copy of the evidence to the RTDRS and to the applicant at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date. If you do not, the Tenancy Dispute Officer may not accept your evidence at the hearing.

Attend the hearing on the date and time specified in the Notice of Hearing form. If you are attending in person, plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the designated hearing time.

Applications must be made within 2 years from the date that a potential claim is discovered.

You can submit the defence evidence in person, by mail or online.

Submit your defence evidence online with a RTDRS eFiling Service account. Please contact the RTDRS toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000, then 403-297-2861 or 780-644-4330, for the access code that you will require to verify your account.

Evidence

Evidence is the legal word for things that are used to prove what happened during the tenancy. Evidence can be:

  • documents, such as leases, agreements, termination notices, receipts, invoices and photographs
  • audio and video recordings
  • what you and your witnesses say in the hearing

The RTDRS does not accept physical evidence such as insects, mould samples or weapons. Instead you must submit photos with a written description. Further information on evidence is available in the Evidence tipsheet.

Witnesses

If you have witnesses that will provide testimony in your defence you should notify them of the date and time of the hearing. If the witness is attending by telephone you must notify the RTDRS at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date.

Contact

Connect with RTDRS:

Phone: 780-644-3000
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-644-2266
Email: rtdrs@gov.ab.ca

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