A landlord and tenant both agree to take on certain responsibilities when they enter into a tenancy agreement. The Residential Tenancies Act lists the responsibilities that are mandatory – the ones which must be met by landlords and tenants. There may be further responsibilities agreed to orally or in writing by the landlord and tenant. The Responsibilities section of this website lists the legal obligations that arise in residential tenancy situations. Most often, disputes between landlords and tenants occur because either the landlord or tenant has not fulfilled one of their responsibilities. In some situations, there may be penalties attached to not meeting one’s responsibilities.
If a landlord and tenant have a dispute, the first step is for the two sides to communicate about the situation and try to work out a solution that both sides can live with. If an agreement is reached, make sure it is in writing. If an agreement cannot be reached, the tenant or landlord should make sure the problem has been written down in a letter and given to the other side. It is important to have problems documented because then the person will be able to prove that the issue was brought to the other side’s attention. Where an agreement cannot be reached, the Residential Tenancies Act sets out what remedies the landlord or tenant can apply for.
If a landlord breaches the residential tenancy agreement or the responsibilities listed in the Residential Tenancies Act, a tenant can apply to Provincial Court or the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service for one of the following remedies:
2. Rent abatement. This is when the tenant asks for rent to be reduced because the landlord has deprived the tenant of a benefit that should have been given under the Residential Tenancies Act or the lease agreement.
3. Compensation. The tenant can make an application for compensation for the cost of doing things that the landlord should have done (for example, repairs to the unit).
4. Termination of tenancy. The tenant can make an application to move out early.
If a tenant breaches the residential tenancy agreement or the responsibilities listed in the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord can apply to Provincial Court or the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service for one of the following remedies:
1. Recovery of rent. If a tenant doesn’t pay the rent, the landlord can apply to recover the money owed.
2. Termination of tenancy. If a tenant commits a substantial breach, the landlord can give the tenant a notice to end the tenancy or make an application to terminate the tenancy. For more information, see the Eviction Notice section of this website.
3. Recovery of property. If a tenant doesn’t move out when he or she is supposed to, the landlord can apply for recovery of the premises and compensation from the tenant for staying longer than allowed. For example, if a landlord served the tenant with an eviction notice and the tenant refused to leave (and did not serve an objection notice), the landlord could make application to recover the property. This type of remedy will usually allow the landlord to hire a Civil Enforcement Agency to remove the tenant, if the tenant has not left by a certain date.
4. Damages. This means the landlord would ask that the tenant be ordered to pay for financial losses that the landlord incurred because of the tenant’s breach. For example, if a tenant caused damage that cost more than the security deposit to fix, the landlord could apply for damages.
Making an Application
In Alberta, landlords and tenants have different places they can go to make an application.
Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service
The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service offers landlords and tenants an alternative means of resolving serious disputes outside of court. This service is designed to be faster, more informal, and less expensive than the courts. A tenant or a landlord who has concerns related to an eviction, unpaid rent/utilities, security deposit, damages, repairs, or other common disagreements may use the service. To make an application, certain forms must be filled out, filed, and served on the other side. The other side then has a chance to respond, and a hearing date will be set. The matter will be heard before a Tenancy Dispute Officer who is authorized to make binding decisions on claims up to $50,000. People can represent themselves and do not need a lawyer to use this service.
The Provincial Court of Alberta is available for landlords and tenants to apply for a remedy of up to $50,000. To make an application in Provincial Court, certain forms must be filled out, filed, and served on the other side. The other side then has a chance to respond, and a trial date will be set. Lawyers are not necessarily required for Provincial Court applications. More information is available on the Provincial Court website.
Court of Queen’s Bench
The Court of Queen’s Bench is the higher court in the province of Alberta. It is recommended that lawyers represent parties at this level of court. While landlords and tenants can use this court for disputes, it more common for these applications to be heard in Provincial Court or the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service.
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