Section 11

Hearings/Hearing Orders

Sub-Section 11.1

Hearings - General Information


Legislation


s. 154, 155, The Residential Tenancies Act

Definitions

Adjourn: to postpone or suspend a hearing to a later date or time.

Claim: a form filed with the Branch by a landlord, tenant or co-signer, asking the Branch to decide if the person who filed the claim is entitled to money from the person they filed against.

Claimant: a landlord, tenant or co-signer, who makes a claim against another.

Commissioner for Oaths: a person appointed by the Provincial Government to take statements under oath and receive solemn declarations.

Contested hearing: a hearing both the claimant and respondent attend.

Co-signer: a person who signs a tenancy agreement along with the tenant and agrees to be responsible for the obligations of the tenant. For example: the obligation to pay rent or to pay for damages.

Declaration of Service:
a form signed by the person who served the claim. It shows how and when the respondent was given notice that a hearing would take place. This form must be signed in front of a Commissioner for Oaths.

Default hearing: a hearing only one party attends, either the claimant or the respondent.

Evidence: information provided to support a claim. Evidence may include oral or written statements from witnesses, letters, condition reports, photographs, videotapes, bills or invoices and receipts.

Ground rules: basic rules of conduct. For example: speak directly to the hearing officer when presenting evidence; no interrupting when someone is speaking; no "cross-table talk" between the claimant and respondent; polite language and respectful behaviour.

Guarantor: a person who signs an agreement and attempts to guarantee that a tenant will meet the specific obligation set out in the guarantee. For example: to be responsible for payment of the rent.

Hearing: a meeting where a claimant and respondent present information about their case to an officer to have their claim, application or question decided.

Hearing docket: a list of the hearings scheduled on a specific date.

Hearing Officer: a neutral third person who receives information and evidence from claimants and respondents and issues decisions/orders based on the information, legislation and regulations.

Mediation: a confidential process the Branch uses to help claimants and respondents discuss problems, think of possible solutions and reach their own agreements. Mediation can take place in meetings, conference calls or separate telephone conversations.

Residential Tenancies Commission: a board that hears appeals on decisions or orders the Branch issues.

Respondent: a landlord, tenant, or tenant’s co-signer or guarantor, against whom a claim is made.

Screening Officer: an officer who reviews the hearing docket to see which claimants and respondents are present. The officer decides how to proceed with the docket and assigns hearings to hearing officers.

Substitutional service: an alternative way for a claimant to give a respondent notice of a hearing where service attempts fail. The claimant must apply to the Branch for approval of substitutional service.

Policy

Branch hearings are open to the public. The Branch holds hearings on:

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A claimant may file a claim at any of the three Branch offices. The Branch holds hearings in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson as well as in other judicial centres in the province. The Branch decides where the hearing will be held. This decision is based on the location of the rental unit and the address of the landlord and tenant. The Branch usually schedules a hearing in the judicial centre closest to the rental unit. A claimant may ask to have their hearing outside of the nearest judicial centre. The Branch will accommodate a request for a different location if it appears fair to both the claimant and the respondent.

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The Branch will usually only reschedule a hearing if both parties agree to reschedule. The Branch may also reschedule a hearing if it considers it necessary. If the Branch does reschedule:

  • before the date of a hearing, it will send a letter to the claimant and respondent confirming the date and time of the hearing.

  • on the actual day of the hearing, it will advise the parties verbally of the date and time of the rescheduled hearing.

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The Branch generally holds hearings with the parties present in the hearing room. If there’s a safety issue or a court order preventing the parties from being in the same room, the Branch may arrange to conduct the hearing in some other way. If one of the parties can’t attend a hearing, the Branch can do the hearing by telephone or conference call. The Branch only does conference call hearings if absolutely necessary. If a claimant or respondent can’t attend a hearing or be available for a conference call, they can make a written submission to the hearing officer.

If a landlord or tenant wants the Branch to consider a written submission, the Branch must receive it before a hearing starts. The information should arrive the day before the hearing. The Branch won’t consider any evidence received after a hearing is finished, unless a hearing officer specifically asks for more information or evidence.

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A claimant or respondent can:

  • attend a hearing and represent themselves;
  • attend a hearing with a representative; or
  • send a representative to a hearing to represent them.

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The Branch will accept evidence from a representative even though they may not have personal knowledge of the case. However, if someone who does have direct knowledge challenges what the representative has said, the Branch will generally accept the evidence of that person as the best evidence that is available. Whenever possible, a representative should bring witnesses or other evidence, like pictures or a video, to the hearing.

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If a claimant or respondent plans to submit a video as evidence, they should advise the Branch before the date of the hearing. This will allow the Branch to have a TV/VCR available.

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Whenever possible, a claimant or respondent should submit the originals of bills or invoices. The Branch will continue to hold the evidence unless the person who submitted the originals asks the Branch to return them. When someone asks the Branch to return original evidence, the Branch makes copies of the information for the file.

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A respondent should bring three copies of their evidence to the hearing: one for the hearing officer, one for the claimant and a copy for themselves. The Branch doesn't usually make copies during a hearing.

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When a respondent does not attend a hearing or submit a written response to the claim, the Branch doesn’t automatically award the amount claimed. The Branch must still ensure that:

  • theclaim is due to a breach of a tenancy agreement or The Residential Tenancies Act; and

  • the claimant is entitled to the amount claimed. The Branch must determine that the amount claimed is reasonable. For example: The landlord claims $500 to replace a fridge the tenant damaged. The Branch must determine if the tenant is responsible to compensate the landlord and if $500 is reasonable considering the age of the fridge. Or, the tenant claims $700.00 to replace some water-damaged furniture. If the Branch determines the landlord is responsible to compensate the tenant, the Branch considers the age and condition of the furniture.

If a respondent doesn’t attend a hearing, the Branch will ask the claimant to provide a Declaration of Service to confirm the respondent’s current mailing address.

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The Branch uses a docket system for hearings on claims for compensation and Applications for Orders of Possession. Under a docket system, the Branch schedules all morning hearings for 9:00 a.m. and all afternoon hearings for 1:30 p.m. The Branch may not always hear the claims or applications in the same order as they’re listed on the hearing docket. The Branch also doesn’t give priority to a claimant or respondent who has a lawyer or other agent representing them.

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If it appears a hearing may continue after 11:30 a.m. or 4:00 p.m., the Branch may adjourn the hearing and continue it on another day. The Branch will verbally advise the attending parties of the date and time it will complete the hearing.

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Branch hearings are informal. The Branch doesn’t:

  • allow video or audio taping during a hearing;
  • have the authority to subpoena people or evidence to a hearing;
  • "swear in" witnesses.

While evidence is not given under oath, a hearing officer does decide who is likely telling the truth and how much importance different evidence has. In other words, a hearing officer considers things like credibility, relevance and whether or not the evidence helps prove the case.

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The Branch will not hear the same claim more than once. If a party disagrees with the Branch’s decision, they may appeal it to the Residential Tenancies Commission.

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In some cases, a claimant may want to add items to their claim during a hearing. When this happens, the respondent may choose to waive their right to notice of the extra claims. If the respondent waives their right to notice, the Branch will consider the entire claim. If the respondent says that they are not prepared to waive their right to notice, the Branch will only consider the original claim. If the Branch believes the claimant could have reasonably included the additional claims in the original claim, it has the authority not to accept a second claim. If the Branch allows the claimant to file another claim for the additional items, it will schedule another hearing. The claimant must pay another filing fee.

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If the Branch believes further investigation of a matter is needed before a decision can be made, a hearing may be adjourned to a later date. The hearing may resume after an investigation officer submits a report to the hearing officer. The claimant and respondent receive a copy of the report.



Procedure

Overview

A landlord and tenant state their case and provide evidence. A hearing officer makes a decision based on the information provided, the legislation and policy and issues an Order.


Steps ▼

Screening Process

When a claimant or respondent come to the Branch for a hearing, they must report to the main hearing room. At either 9:00 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., a screening officer reviews the hearing docket.

The screening officer:

  • tells claimants and respondents about the Branch’s mediation service;


  • checks to see which claimants and respondents are present; and


  • offers mediation on those files where both the claimant and respondent are present.
  • When the claimant and respondent choose to try mediation:
    • the screening officer assigns a mediation officer to assist them;


    • the mediation officer takes the claimant and respondent to another room and follows the Branch’s procedures for mediation (see Section 1);


    • if the parties agree to settle the claim or application, the mediation officer advises the screening officer to remove the file from the hearing docket;


    • if the parties can’t agree on a settlement, the mediation officer returns to the main hearing room with the claimant and respondent and advises the screening officer that a hearing is required;


    • the screening officer then assigns the file to the next available hearing officer.
  • When the claimant and respondent choose not to try mediation or when only the claimant or respondent attends the hearing, the screening officer:
    • assigns files to the available hearing officers; the hearing officers then take the claimant and respondent to other hearing rooms;


    • hears evidence from claimants and respondents on the remaining files on the docket.

    Hearing Process:

  • When both the claimant and respondent appear at the hearing:

    1.The hearing officer states their name and explains the purpose of the hearing.

    2.The officer writes down the names of everyone who will participate in the hearing, and explains what will happen during the hearing and the ground rules.

    3.The officer asks witnesses to leave the hearing room until they are called to provide evidence.

    4.The claimant provides details of the claim, gives evidence to support the claim, and calls witnesses, one at a time.

    5.The respondent gives a response to the claim and evidence to support the information, and calls witnesses, one at a time.

    6.The claimant or respondent may question each other or the witnesses, through the hearing officer. Questions are for purposes of clarification. The claimant or respondent may also comment on the information provided by each other or any witness.

    7.The officer may question the claimant or respondent or any witnesses, at any time during the hearing.

    8.The officer records in writing, the documents, photos, etc., that the claimant or respondent provides as evidence to be heard and considered.

    9.The officer allows the claimant to respond to the respondent’s information and lets the respondent make a final comment too.

    10.The officer confirms the mailing addresses for the claimant and respondent and ends the hearing. In an Order of Possession, the officer asks how the courier may enter the residential complex to deliver the decision.

    11.The officer reviews the information and evidence received and/or reviewed at the hearing and issues a written Order or decision with reasons. On Orders of Possession, the officer issues a decision within three working days of the hearing. On claims or other matters, the officer usually issues a decision within ten working days of the hearing.

    When the Branch issues an Order and later issues a second or third Order on the same tenancy, the Branch will make note of the previous Order number(s) on the following Order(s).

    When the Branch issues offsetting Orders, the Branch sends copies of both Orders to the Court of Queen’s Bench for their records.

  • When only the claimant attends the hearing:

    1.The hearing officer reviews the declaration of service to make sure the respondent received proper notice of the hearing.

    2.If the respondent didn’t receive the proper notice, the officer won’t proceed with the hearing. The claimant may ask the Branch to reschedule the hearing so they can give the claim to the respondent. The claimant may ask the Branch to authorize substitutional service on the respondent, if service could not be made.

    3.If the respondent did receive the proper notice, the officer checks the file to see if the respondent provided a written response to the claim.

    4.The claimant tells the officer the details of the claim, gives evidence to support the claim and calls witnesses, one at a time.

    5.The officer records in writing, the documents, photos, etc., that the claimant or respondent provides as evidence to be heard and considered.

    6.If the respondent provided a written response to the claim, the officer may read the response to the claimant or give the claimant a copy of it. The officer allows the claimant to review any evidence the respondent provided to support the information. The claimant can comment on the respondent’s information.

    7.Step 6 is repeated if the respondent filed a claim, and the claimant acknowledges receiving the required notice of the claim.

    8.The officer confirms the claimant’s mailing address and will ask the claimant to confirm that the mailing address they gave for the respondent is still current.

    9.The officer reviews the information and evidence received and/or reviewed at the hearing and issues a written Order or decision with reasons. On Orders of Possession, the officer issues a decision within two working days of the hearing. On claims or other matters, the officer usually issues a decision within ten working days of the hearing.

    When the Branch issues an Order and later issues a second or third Order on the same tenancy, the Branch will make note of the previous Order number(s) on the following Order(s).

    When the Branch issues offsetting Orders, the Branch sends copies of both Orders to the Court of Queen’s Bench for their records.

  • When only the respondent attends the hearing

    1.The officer and the respondent review the claim and any supporting documents the claimant provided. The respondent can comment or give information on each claim.

    2.If the respondent filed a claim, and provided proof of service, the respondent will give details of the claim, provide evidence and call witnesses, one at a time.

    3.The officer reviews the information and evidence received and/or reviewed at the hearing and issues a written Order or decision with reasons. On Orders of Possession, the officer issues a decision within two working days of the hearing. On claims or other matters, the officer usually issues a decision within ten working days of the hearing.

    When the Branch issues an Order and later issues a second or third Order on the same tenancy, the Branch will make note of the previous Order number(s) on the following Order(s).

    When the Branch issues offsetting Orders, the Branch sends copies of both Orders to the Court of Queen’s Bench for their records.

  • When no one attends the hearing:

    The screening officer returns the file to the assigned mediation officer. If the file started as a request by a tenant for their security deposit, the mediation officers re-assigns the file to the original client service representative for processing. In all other cases, the mediation officer sends a closing letter to the claimant. To re-open the file, the claimant must pay another filing fee and serve the respondent again.

  • Forms & Form Letters

    X-Referencing

    For more information on claims, see Claims in Section 9.
    For details on serving a claim and notice of hearing, see this section.
    For information on investigation, see Section 1.


    Policy Developed

    September, 1992


    Last Revision

    March, 2004


    Other Resources

    None


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