Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much is the filing fee?

There is a $75 filing fee at the time of filing your application. This can be paid by Debit, MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Cheque or Money Order. Cheques should be made payable to the “Government of Alberta”. The RTDRS does not accept cash.

2. What if I cannot afford the filing fee?

If the filing fee is a financial difficulty, you can apply to reduce or waive the fee. You must provide 3 months’ proof of income, either as pay stubs or as a printout of your bank account.

Contact the following organizations to apply:

  • Student Legal Service (Edmonton) - 780-492-8244
  • Calgary Legal Guidance - 403-234-9266
  • Lethbridge Legal Guidance - 403-380-6338
  • Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic (Red Deer) - 403-314-9129
  • Grande Prairie Legal Guidance -780-882-0036

Applicants may also contact the RTDRS. If the request is approved by one of the law services listed above, you will be given a letter that you must submit with your application form.

3. What is the difference between submitting defence evidence and filing 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”. A counter-application is an application filed prior to the hearing date of the original application. Only claims in an application will be considered by the Tenancy Dispute Officer. The steps for filing a counter-application are the same as filing a regular application, see “How to Apply” for details on how to file an application.

If you do not have a claim against the other party and are just defending yourself from the claim brought against you, you must serve the RTDRS and the other party with a copy of your defence evidence at least 24 hours (must include one business day) prior to the hearing date.

For more information go to the "If you have been Served with an RTDRS Application" tab.

4. What does “reasonable attempts” of service mean?

The Residential Tenancies Act does not define “reasonable attempts” of service. 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. Ultimately, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will decide whether or not they are satisfied with the service attempts.

5. What happens if I don’t serve my defence or additional evidence to the other party and the RTDRS at least 24 hours prior to the hearing?

The Tenancy Dispute Officer may decide not to accept your evidence if the service requirements have not been met. Alternatively, the matter may be adjourned to a different date to allow everyone to review the evidence.

6. What is an RTDRS Order?

After your hearing at the RTDRS, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will render their decision. This is normally done in form of a judgment that is called an “order”.

7. How long do I have to file the RTDRS Order at court?

The RTDRS order is filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench and then served on the respondent. Although there is no specified time limit, we suggest that this be done as soon as possible. The order must be filed at the court prior to the applicant enforcing the order. For more information on next steps after the order has been issued, see the After the Order Tip Sheet.

8. The other party will not provide me with their address. Can the Tenancy Dispute Officer force the other party to provide me with a valid address?

No, the Tenancy Dispute Officer does not have the authority to force a party to provide a physical address. If you are having issues serving an Application Package see “If you’re unsuccessful serving documents” under the “Service Requirements” tab for more information on options to serve.

9. What do I call the Tenancy Dispute Officer during my hearing?

You may call the Tenancy Dispute Officer “Mr.” or “Ms.” and their last name, or “Sir” or “Ma’am” if you prefer.

10. What are my options if the tenant does not vacate the premises by the date outlined in the RTDRS Order?

If the tenant fails to vacate the premises as per the RTDRS Order, the Applicant will need to 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.

For information on enforcing the Order at the Court of Queen’s Bench, see Getting and Enforcing your Judgment in Alberta at http://www.albertacourts.ca.

11. I have a restraining order against the other party. How is the RTDRS going to accommodate that for the hearing?

Restraining orders usually exempt parties from being near each other when in a court setting, and the RTDRS is included in that definition, so you may not be violating the order if you attend in person, depending on the wording of your Restraining Order. Alternatively, you may attend the hearing by way of telephone. Please contact the RTDRS at 780-644-3000 (for toll-free dial 310-0000 first) to advise of the telephone number that you can be reached at for the hearing.

12. Where are the courts located?

See the Alberta Courts website at http://www.albertacourts.ab.ca for the locations and contact information for the Court of Queen’s Bench locations across Alberta.

13. Why can’t the RTDRS staff provide me with legal advice?

RTDRS staff can only provide information on RTDRS processes and procedures. They cannot provide advice on how you should proceed, what you should be filing for or what can happen. For legal advice, you must contact a lawyer. Please refer to the “Legal Resources” tab on the RTDRS website for some resource options.

14. What are my options if I cannot serve the respondent?

If you have not been successful after several reasonable attempts to serve the respondent, you can apply to the RTDRS to serve the documents another way. This is called “substitutional service.” You must complete a Affidavit in Support of Substitutional Service 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 affidavit and make a decision on the request. See “If you’re unsuccessful serving documents” under the “Service Requirements” tab for more information on options to serve.

15. How can I collect or enforce a judgment awarded to me on an RTDRS Order?

If the Respondent fails to pay the judgment amount after they’ve been served with the order, the Applicant may enforce the Order at the Court of Queen’s Bench. For information on enforcing the Order at the Court of Queen’s Bench, see Getting and Enforcing your Judgment in Alberta at http://www.albertacourts.ab.ca.

16. I cannot attend the hearing in person. What are my options?

You may attend by telephone, or have a representative appear on your behalf, or provide written documents for a document-hearing only. If you are attending 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.

Call the RTDRS at 780-644-3000 (for toll-free dial 310-0000 first) for more options.

17. Will the Tenancy Dispute Officer look at additional/defence evidence that I have on my phone, iPad and/or laptop?

No, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will not look at any evidence on an electronic device because the evidence cannot form a part of the record that may be reviewed on appeal.

Any documentary evidence that you would like the Tenancy Dispute Officer to consider must be printed (photographs, texts, e-mails, documents, etc.) and served to the RTDRS and the other party at least 24 hours (must include one business day) prior to the hearing date.

18. My tenant has damaged the rental unit and/or has threatened me. What are my options to get a quick hearing date?

In cases of significant damage to the rental premises, assault or threat of assault, you may make an application to reduce the 3 clear day notice period that is required to be given to the other party. This is called “abridgement of service.” You must complete an Affidavit in Support of Abridgment of Service in which you provide details on why you are requesting the notice period to be reduced. A Tenancy Dispute Officer will review the affidavit and make a decision on the request. For more information on how to abridge the service time see “Urgent Situations” under the “Service Requirements” tab.

19. How can I prepare for my 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. The applicant and respondent must both be available at the scheduled start time and for 45 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. Prepare for your case by going through your evidence and being familiar with copies of the information and documents that you provided in advance to the RTDRS and the other party at the hearing.

Remember to bring your documents (Application Package, defence evidence, etc.) with you as you may be required to refer to them at the hearing.

20. Why can’t I file my application by fax if my rental premises are located in Calgary or Edmonton but I am residing elsewhere?

The location of your rental premises determines the filing method and hearing location. If your rental premises are:

In or around Edmonton:

  • The application should be filed in-person at the Edmonton office.
  • The hearing will take place in-person at the Edmonton office.

In or around Calgary:

  • The application should be filed in-person at the Calgary office.
  • The hearing will take place in-person at the Calgary office.

In other Alberta locations:

If you are not sure what method you should be filing your application by see “How to Apply” and enter your rental premises location in the “search” box to see how you should be filing your application.

If filing in-person or by fax poses a hardship contact the RTDRS at 780-644-3000 (for toll-free dial 310-0000 first) for more options.

21. How long is my RTDRS Order valid for?

With some exceptions, RTDRS Orders are valid for 10 years. For more information on enforcing an RTDRS Order go to http://www.albertacourts.ab.ca.

22. Can I include physical items as evidence, such as bed bugs, mold samples, etc.?

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

23. How do I serve someone who is in jail?

If you are aware of where the person is being held, call the facility ahead of time and advise them that you need to serve legal documents upon an inmate. Ask what the best time to serve the documents are as the prison may have specific rules on when service can take place, due to lock down procedures, staff rotation, lunch and dinner schedules, etc.

If you are unable to serve the Application Package yourself you can hire a process server to serve the documents for you. Whoever serves the Application Package must complete the Affidavit of Service form.

24. I don’t believe I have the full/correct or proper name of my landlord. How do I find out the proper name?

When filing an application against your landlord, you must make sure that the name and spelling of the landlord is correct:

Individual landlord - When filing a claim against an individual landlord, use the full first and last name of each person you are filing the application against. Do not use initials, because initials do not sufficiently identify the person being claimed against. If you are not sure who the owner of the property is or how to properly spell their name you can do a land title search on the rental premises address to find out who the owner of the property is. This can be done at any Alberta Registry.

Business - If you are filing an application against a business it is important to know whether the business is incorporated or unincorporated. An incorporated business usually has Limited, Ltd., Incorporated or Inc. after its name.

  • An incorporated business can only be claimed against in the name of the business. Put the full name of the business on the application form. To find out the exact name of an incorporated business, a Corporation Search should be done at any Alberta Registry Office.
  • Firms (partnerships of two or more people) and sole proprietorships are called unincorporated businesses. An unincorporated business must be claimed against in the name of the owner. Put the owner's full name and the name of the business on the application form. To find out the owner(s) of an unincorporated business and the address of the owner, do a Trade Name Search at any Alberta Registry Office.

25. How do I label my evidence at the time of filing my application?

Make sure your evidence is in the order that corresponds to the sections in the application form. For example, your lease agreement would be the first document and your documents related to costs would be the last document. Mark the pages of evidence as “Item A, Item B, etc.” and write the same item letter in the corresponding spaces in the application form.

If you are including numerous documents and photographs you should number the pages and each photograph individually.

Marking your evidence properly helps the Tenancy Dispute Officer easily locate your evidence during the hearing.