Tenants, landlords can now file disputes on their smart phones

Residents can now apply for dispute resolution online

The province announced this week it’s making it quicker and easier for tenants and landlords to file for dispute resolution to resolve tenancy issues.

It’s part of a $6.8 million increase in funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes, avoid adjournments and give the RTB a tool to take action against landlords and tenants who are repeat or serious offenders.

Saanich tenant Brent Summerfield went through the paper filing process this summer in dispute against his landlord and won. He’s since been contacted by other tenants who were under the impression Victoria’s RTB office was closed.

RELATED: Tenants disappointed by ‘renoviction’

“A lot of misinformation is out there on the topic,” said Summerfield. “[People] thought they’d have to go to one of the two offices on the mainland to file a claim so decided to not fight it.”

In fact, landlords and tenants can now apply from any device, not just a laptop.

Over the past 12 months, the Residential Tenancy Branch handled about 300,000 phone calls, received 21,500 applications, with 35 per cent of those dismissed (a combined total of 20 per cent dismissed and 15 per cent dismissed with the right to reapply), a number they’re hoping to reduce.

In 25 per cent of the cases the landlord’s case was upheld while the tenant’s argument was upheld only 14 per cent of the time. Twelve per cent of cases were settled through RTB, eight per cent went to a split-decision and the other six per cent were either cancelled, refused (on jurisdictional counts) or had an alternative outcome.

“The new online, user-friendly application walks people through the process to make sure they are providing the right information,” said Darren Harbord, spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This should help avoid adjournments and dismissals due to incomplete or incorrect applications.”

Of course the public can still access the paper application as well. Low-income tenants can apply to have the standard $100 fee waived with a proof of income in the online application.

The new online application is at gov.bc.ca/landlordtenant/online

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