B.C.’s new online tenancy dispute process needs work says lawyer
More of B.C.’s tenant-landlord dispute resolution process can now be done online, but a lawyer that helps people navigate the system says it still needs work.
For the last two weeks, British Columbians have been able to upload evidence related to Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) disputes, and already flaws in the system are apparent according to Marie Campbell with Access Probono.
Key information is missing from the system’s Notice of Hearing function, and users can’t double check their submissions or see what adjudicators see online, she said.
“You don’t see a copy of what you’ve filed. You can upload evidence online, but you don’t know what you’re applying. [It’s the] same when you apply for a hearing, you don’t receive the confirmation with a copy of what you have filed,” she said.
“I think it could be great to have a copy of what you filed – whether the application or the evidence because that’s a big challenge for me, especially since it’s difficult to get a hold of the RTB when you have an issue.”
Campbell said at one point while using the system, she was able to see data that could have allowed her to access confidential information from the opposing party during the process.
She said she did not access that information, and instead reported the problem to the RTB.
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But Campbell said despite the flaws, the system does have some advantages.
People can find out immediately if they qualify to have their $100 application fee waived, which she said previously took several days.
Streamlining the landlord-tenancy process is part of government’s pledge to reduce dispute wait times.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the new system helps avoid adjournments and dismissals due to incomplete or incorrect applications.
The Ministry also said the system does not allow people to see a copy of what they’ve filed to “protect the parties’ personal information.”
In an email, the Ministry also said the Residential Tenancy Branch does not disclose file-related information to any person without proper authentication.