Manitoba

Residential Tenancies Branch

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Section 1 General Issues
Sub-Section 1.8 Mediation

Legislation


153, The Residential Tenancies Act


Definitions

Brainstorm: a discussion with people to explore potential options and solutions.

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

Conference call: a telephone call involving a mediation officer and the people involved in a dispute.

Face to face mediation: a meeting where the people involved in a dispute and a mediation officer come together to discuss a problem.

Ground rules: basic rules of conduct. For example: no interrupting when someone is speaking, polite language, respectful behaviour, etc.

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

Mediated agreement: a written document a mediation officer prepares to outline an agreement between a claimant and respondent or if there isn’t a claim filed, between affected parties. Mediated agreements are confidential. They are not a matter of public record.

Mediation officer: a neutral third person. An officer who doesn’t take sides or pass judgement, but helps people reach their own agreement.

Order: instructs the claimant and respondent, in writing, to either pay money, move or do something. Example 1: The landlord shall pay the tenant $500.00 compensation for their moving expenses on or before March 31, 2002. Example 2: The tenant shall move out of the rental unit on March 31, 2002.

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


Policy

The Branch tries to mediate all disagreements between people, except for complaints about rent increases. Rent increase decisions are based on procedures set out by The Residential Tenancies Act and regulations.

Mediation is available from the time a dispute arises. However, mediation can only happen if everyone agrees to participate.

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A mediation officer will:

  • focus on helping people solve the problem;
  • oversee the discussion, identify common ground and help people look at possible solutions;
  • make sure that the agreement is allowed under The Residential Tenancies Act;
  • keep discussion going.

A mediation officer won’t:

  • decide who is right or wrong;
  • solve the problem, but will help people reach their own agreement;
  • offer legal advice;
  • judge guilt or innocence;
  • take sides.

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Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process.

If mediation isn’t successful, the Branch may make a decision or issue an Order. When making a decision or issuing an Order, the Branch doesn’t consider any offers or counteroffers people may have made to try to resolve the problem. The Branch also doesn’t consider any information provided by a party during mediation unless that party asks that the information go to a hearing officer. For example: estimates or quotes for work to be done, third party statements.

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The parties involved in a dispute can’t ask a mediation officer to give evidence.

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When there is a mediated agreement, it is binding. If either party doesn’t live up to the terms of an agreement, the Branch may issue an Order to comply. Section 153(5) of the Act gives the Branch the authority to issue the order. The mediation officer is responsible to confirm the terms of the Order. However, another officer or manager will actually issue the Order. If the Branch issues an Order, it’s a matter of public record and can’t be appealed.

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When a landlord gives a tenant a warning letter or a notice of termination, either the landlord or tenant may ask the Branch to try to resolve the problem through mediation. In some cases, the tenant might agree to move on a specific date. The Branch can issue a mediated agreement to confirm that the tenancy will end on that date. If the tenant doesn’t move as agreed, the landlord can ask the Branch to issue an Order of Possession. The landlord does not have to complete an Application for an Order of Possession and attend a hearing. However, to receive an Order, the landlord must pay $60.00, the same amount as the filing fee for an Application.

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A mediated agreement often includes a plan for a tenant to pay a landlord specific amounts on specific dates. If the tenant misses a payment or pays late, the Branch can order the tenant to pay the outstanding balance, unless the mediated agreement says otherwise.

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In some cases, a claimant may agree to reduce the amount of their claim and allow the respondent to make payments on the reduced amount. When this happens, the claimant may ask that, if the respondent doesn’t pay:

  • the Branch cancel the agreement and schedule a hearing to consider the claimant’s original claim; or
  • the Branch order the respondent to pay the amount shown on the original claim.

The mediated agreement will show the terms of the agreement and what will happen if the respondent defaults on a term.

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When mediating a claim for compensation or order of possession, the Branch tries to speak to everyone named on the claim form or application. In some cases, the Branch may not be able to contact all of the respondents. If the claimant decides to go ahead with a mediated agreement, the agreement is only binding on the person or people the Branch speaks to directly.

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When a claimant files a claim against more than one person, each respondent may offer to pay a portion of the claim. If the claimant agrees to accept the offer, the mediated agreement may show how much each respondent is responsible to pay. The agreement will also show what will happen if one of the respondents doesn’t pay. The agreement may show that the claimant will receive an Order against the one person who doesn’t pay or an Order against all the respondents.

When helping a landlord and tenant come to an agreement, the Branch always tells a landlord and tenant about the sections of the Act, the regulations and the policies that cover their situation. The Branch won’t issue a mediated agreement that includes something that is against the Act or the regulations.

However, sometimes a landlord and tenant may want to include something in a mediated agreement that’s contrary to Branch policy. For example: A tenant may agree to a landlord’s full claim for costs even though, because of policy, the Branch may not award all the costs at a claim for compensation hearing. If, after getting all the information, a landlord or tenant may still want to agree to something outside a policy, the Branch will include it in the agreement. In the agreement, the Branch will show that the landlord or tenant knew about the policy, but chose to do otherwise.



Procedure

Overview

A landlord or tenant contacts an officer with a problem or complaint. An officer may also contact a claimant and respondent after a claim for compensation or Application for an Order of Possession is filed with the Branch. Based on the information given and the kind of complaint, the officer may attempt mediation. The officer then outlines the process and describes what a mediation officer does. If people agree to try mediation, the officer works through basic steps to get an agreement.


Steps ▼

1.The officer explains both the mediation and decision making process to the parties. If they agree to try mediation, different approaches can be used, depending on the dispute. For example: If the disagreement can be easily discussed, mediation can be done over the telephone or by mail. If it is more complex, it might be necessary to have a more formal mediation.

2.Mediation, whether in person or on the telephone, has four basic stages

In stage one, the officer:

  • makes introductions;
  • states the reason for the meeting, conference call or telephone call;
  • describes the mediation officer’s job;
  • stresses confidentiality;
  • outlines the steps or stages in mediation;
  • sets the ground rules for the discussion;
  • gets people to agree to go ahead with the discussion;
  • encourages a commitment to mediation.

In stage two, the officer:

  • gets a basic or better understanding of the issue by letting each person briefly describe their situation;
  • lets people hear each other’s explanation, as it’s told to someone else;
  • may need to have a private discussion or caucus, with either party;
  • begins to pick out key issues;
  • summarizes and confirms the issues that need to be dealt with.

In stage three, the officer:

  • asks the parties to talk about the things that concern them;
  • emphasizes areas of agreement and starts to work towards solving the problem;
  • encourages the parties to brainstorm and come up with possible solutions to their problems;
  • lets the parties comment on any information they hear;
  • makes sure that the possible solutions are allowed under The Residential Tenancies Act.

In stage four, the officer:

  • makes sure everyone has a common understanding of how the issues have or will be dealt with;
  • writes down, in words of the parties, what they agreed to, including amounts of money, dates and deadlines;
  • makes sure everyone is clear on who will do what, where, when, how and why;
  • reads the agreement out loud and gets everyone’s approval;
  • mails a written copy of the telephone mediated agreement to both the claimant and respondent. In these cases, a seven-day grace or review period is given, to make sure that the written agreement is correct.
  • has the parties sign the agreement if the mediation is done in person; the mediation officer also signs the agreement as a witness. People can have a lawyer or an advisor read the agreement over before signing it.

3.If one party doesn’t live up to the agreement, the other party can apply to the Branch for an Order based on the mediated agreement. This Order can’t be appealed. This order is a matter of public record.

4.If the parties don’t agree to mediate or can’t reach an agreement, two things can happen:

  • there could be a hearing; or
  • another officer reviews the file and makes a decision.

The information received during the mediation is not considered in the decision.


Forms & Form Letters



X-Referencing

For more details on Enforcing an Order, see Section 10.


Policy Developed

September, 1992*


Last Revision

May, 2015


Other Resources

None


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