by Suzanne Bell, Executive Director, RTB
Hi everyone, welcome to the spring edition of Window on RTB! I thought I would take the opportunity to write a little bit about evidence.
Evidence is the material that you supply in support of your position in a hearing, and it’s really important!
If you’ve ever been involved in a hearing before, you’ll know what I mean – and you probably also remember that there are strict timelines for sending it to us.
We do that because we need to make sure that the other participants have it, and they have time to respond to it. We also need to make sure that we have it, that it gets to the attention of the decision maker ahead of the hearing, and that it is securely part of your file.
The timelines are really the bare minimum – the earlier clients submit and disclose evidence, the greater the likelihood that the dispute can be resolved quickly. This means there is less chance of the other party requesting an adjournment because they claim that they did not have sufficient time to prepare a rebuttal to your evidence.
And sometimes, it may even open the lines of communication where you and the other party are able to resolve the dispute on your own!
The big question is, what does good, persuasive evidence look like? Well, it can be all sorts of things, but there are some things that really must be part of every evidence package:
First, you need a copy of your tenancy agreement. That’s how we know what the contract is between landlord and tenant, and it’s really important. If you have changed part of your agreement over time, please make sure you include those changes. For example, the rent may have increased over time. Please make sure we can see that. Or perhaps there is a new agreement regarding the inclusion of a pet. Please make sure we have that. Any change is important.
The next really important piece of information is the Notice to End Tenancy, if there is one. If the purpose of the hearing is to ask for an Order of Possession for some reason, or to cancel the Notice, then a copy of the Notice is really important. Or, if you are asking for a Repair Order, or an Order to Comply, please produce any written material that you have, like letters or emails. Any estimates from repair companies, or receipts, would also be really important things to supply.
The other really important piece to include is proof of service. If you served the other participant by registered mail, we need to see the receipt with the proper address on it. If you placed it on the door and you have a witness, let us know. Or take a picture and supply it – that is another way to show how you served. We need to know that the other participants in the hearing have had the chance to see your evidence, and to prepare themselves.
You might wonder why we make such a big deal out of evidence, and I’m happy to explain. Applications to the RTB, and their associated evidence, support an extremely important tenet of administrative law. It is “the right to know the case against you”, and you’ll hear it in a hearing, particularly if you haven’t prepared properly! So, be sure to supply all your important evidence to the other participants and to the RTB.
Finally, as always, you can find information about timelines, Fact Sheets, Rules of Procedure and Policy Guidelines on our website, at: www.rto.gov.bc.ca
Residential Tenancy Branch
Note: This post was written by the British Columbia Residential Tenancy Branch for the landlord organisations: BCAOMA and ROMS.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.