Landlord-Tenant Dispute Resolution
Alberta’s residential landlord-tenant legislation is widely considered to be deficient in process generally and in the substantive rights and obligations relevant to residential tenants who are exceptionally vulnerable to the power exercised by landlords. The Residential Tenancies Act (Alberta) and its regulations, including the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Regulation are overdue for law reform. The Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) is a quasi-judicial tribunal that hears landlord-tenant disputes under the Residential Tenancies Act (Alberta) and the Mobile Home Sites Tenancy Act (Alberta). RTDRS purports to offer an accessible and timely dispute resolution for tenants who have no access to a lawyer. However, there are concerns that these administrative efficiencies can lead to procedural shortcomings with difficult to understand rules of practice, constraints on hearings, barriers on accessing or presenting evidence, and few published decisions.
In 2016, JD students registered in the Clinic organized and hosted a stakeholder roundtable discussion with representatives from community organizations to discuss concerns with the RTDRS. This discussion resulted in the Clinic forwarding a submission to the Director of the RTDRS with suggested amendments to address noted concerns from the community. In 2017, the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Regulation was amended to make some enhancements to procedural fairness in the dispute resolution service, however not all concerns were addressed.
When the RTDRS regulation was set to expire again in April 2022, the Lieutenant Governor in Council issued an order to extend the Regulation for another 5 years without any apparent review of the Regulation or its governance measures. The sole purpose for legislating an expiry date in a regulation is to provide an opportunity to consider any deficiencies that are found in the Regulation, and the government has failed to do so. The Clinic is continuing to monitor government action related to the RTDRS and investigate ways to improve these regulations.