Under normal circumstances, the earliest a hearing with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) can be scheduled once an application for dispute resolution has been submitted is 22 days. In an effort to accommodate special circumstances where reduced wait times are necessary, the RTB has released new policy guidelines and Rules of Procedure that explain when and how landlords and tenants can apply for expedited hearings.
The RTB will only consider applications for expedited hearings under emergency situations, including:
- early end of tenancy
- emergency repairs
- order of possession for a tenant
In these cases, the RTB can schedule a hearing as early as 12 days following the application for dispute resolution being submitted. Where there is evidence of violence, health and safety concerns and/or immediate danger or threat, a hearing can be scheduled within six days.
In order for a hearing to be scheduled as soon as possible, it is important to submit all evidence required with the application. If the RTB agrees that the matter does justify an expedited hearing, they will prepare a Notice of Dispute Resolution Proceeding package. The applicant must serve the Notice of Dispute Resolution Proceeding package to the respondent(s) within one day of it being made available. There are specific methods that must be used to serve the Notice of Dispute Resolution Proceeding package and time limits for responding and gathering evidence are also limited.
The RTB will not consider expedited hearings for monetary claims or orders of possession for unpaid rent.
Once a hearing has been scheduled, the application can only be amended with the permission of the arbitrator at the hearing. Changing the reason for the expedited hearing to something unrelated (or one where an expedited hearing would not have been considered) could be grounds for the application to be dismissed.
For further details and to see the policy guidelines and new Rules of Procedure, see the Residential Tenancy Branch's "Scheduling an Expedited Hearing" webpage.
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