Landlord and tenant disputes

Serving documents

Once you receive the application package, you must serve it on the respondent.

After you file your application with the RTDRS, you will be given an application package which includes:

  • the Notice of Hearing, which includes the date, time and location of the hearing
  • application form
  • evidence

You must serve the application package on the respondent(s) at least 3 clear days before the hearing date. This doesn’t include:

  • date of service
  • date of hearing
  • weekends
  • holidays

For example, if your hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, service must be completed no later than the previous Wednesday.

What’s important to know

You should serve a copy of the application package on each respondent. You are allowed to serve one respondent with all copies of the application package.

For example, if there are 3 respondents, 3 application packages can be served on 1 of the respondents.

The only methods of service accepted by the RTDRS are mentioned below, unless a Tenancy Dispute Officer approves of an alternate method (e.g. by regular mail, placing the documents in a mailbox or under the door).

The Tenancy Dispute Officer decides whether the documents were served properly.

Landlords

Landlords can serve documents in one of the following ways:

Personal service

You can serve the tenants or non-tenant occupants by giving the application package to them personally:

  • you must make several attempts to serve the application package
  • the service attempts should be at different times in the day, and in the evening if necessary

keep a note of the dates, times and locations that you attempted to serve the application; you’ll need this when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Landlord form If the tenant no longer lives at the rental premises, you can serve the tenant personally at any location.

By registered mail

You can serve the application package on the tenants or non-tenant occupants by registered mail:

  • send it to the rental premises address
  • keep all receipts and tracking numbers
  • service is completed on the date the respondent signs for the registered mail
  • you’ll need all of this information when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Landlord form

To an adult or posted in plain sight

If you believe that the tenant is evading your service attempts or is absent from the premises, you may:

  • serve an adult (18 years of age or older) who appears to live with the tenant
  • post the application package in plain sight on the rental premises (such as a door used often by the tenants)

When posting the application package, you must post a copy of the package for each tenant named as a respondent.

At the registered office address

If the tenant is a corporation, you can serve the application package at the registered office address as shown on a corporate registration search. Contact the RTDRS for more ways to serve a corporation.

Contact Corporate Registry

Tenants

Tenants can serve documents in one of the following ways:

Personal service

You can serve the application package on the landlord by giving it to them personally.

When serving personally, take the following things into consideration:

  • you must make several attempts to serve the application package
  • the service attempts should be at different times in the day, and in the evening if necessary
  • keep a note of the dates, times and locations that you attempted to serve the application; you’ll need this when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Tenant form later on

By registered mail

You can serve the landlord by registered mail at:

  • the address where you pay rent
  • the address in the Notice of Landlord that was given to you by the landlord
  • the address in the Notice of Landlord posted at the rental premises by the landlord

Remember to:

  • keep all receipts and tracking numbers
  • service is completed on the date the landlord signs for the registered mail
  • you will need all of this information when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Tenant form

At the registered office address

If the landlord is a corporation, you can serve the application package at the registered office address as shown on a corporate registration search. Contact RTDRS for more ways to serve a corporation.

Contact Corporate Registry

If you’re unsuccessful serving documents

If the tenant no longer lives at the residential premises, posting documents on the premises may not be considered proper service. You can still serve the tenant in person at any location. You can also attempt service by registered mail to the tenant’s last known address (the residential premises).

If you have not been successful after several reasonable attempts to serve the respondent(s), you can apply to the RTDRS to serve the documents another way. This is called “substitutional service.” You must complete a Substitutional Service Affidavit form in which you list your attempts at service, request approval to serve another way and explain why you believe it will work. A Tenancy Dispute Officer will review the affidavit and make a decision on the request.

The Substitutional Service Affidavit form is available on the RTDRS website or at the RTDRS offices in Edmonton and Calgary. Take the completed Substitutional Service Affidavit to a Commissioner for Oaths. The RTDRS has Commissioners available in our offices if you are in Edmonton or Calgary. If you filed your application by fax, you must have the affidavit commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths and faxed to the RTDRS.

Urgent situations

Normally, a hearing needs a notice period of 3 clear days to take place (see above).

However, in cases of significant damage to the rental premises, assault or threat of assault, you can apply to reduce the notice period to the respondent.

Only the most serious cases will be accepted.

To apply for this, you must:

  1. Fill out an Abridgement Affidavit form (PDF, 1 page)
    • include evidence to support your request
  2. Take the form to a Commissioner for Oaths
    • RTDRS has Commissioners in the Edmonton and Calgary offices
  3. Submit the form in person, by mail or fax

Contact us

After service is completed

If you served RTDRS documents

After you’ve served RTDRS documents on the respondent, you’ll have to follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the appropriate Affidavit of Service form
    1. Take the forms to a Commissioner for Oaths to be sworn or affirmed
      • the RTDRS has Commissioners in the Edmonton and Calgary offices
      • this can be done before or on the day of the hearing
      • if the application package was served by registered mail, give the Commissioner the postal receipt with the tracking number and the Signature for Certificate of Delivery Confirmation document (which you can get through a Canada Post office or website)
    2. File the Affidavit of Service form with the RTDRS
      • you can file the forms before or on the day of the hearing
      • you can file in-person or by fax

If you’ve been served with RTDRS documents

If you are served with a Notice of Hearing you must attend the hearing. If this is not possible, you can have a representative attend on your behalf. If you or your representative don’t attend, the hearing may proceed and an order may be issued against you.

Contact the RTDRS for other options.

You can respond to the application in one of three ways:

  1. Defend
  2. Defend in RTDRS by filing a counter-application
  3. Defend and then Defend in RTDRS by filing an application at a later date

Defend

  • this means you don’t agree with the claims in the application, and want to bring evidence and/or witnesses to tell your side of the dispute
  • you must give your documents to the applicant and the RTDRS at least 24 hours before the hearing, otherwise your evidence may not be accepted (evidence must be submitted in person or by mail)
  • only the claims in the application will be heard by the Tenancy Dispute Officer

Defend and file a counter-application

  • if you want to have your claims heard by the Tenancy Dispute Officer you can file a counter-application against the applicant before the hearing date
  • the steps for filing a counter-application are the same as filing an application; see above for the proper steps
  • the Tenancy Dispute Officer will hear the application and counter-application in one of these ways:
    • together on that date
    • together at a later date
    • separately, on different dates
  • the decision will depend on many factors, such as
    • service requirements
    • time needed for the hearing
    • if the same evidence and witnesses are needed for both applications

Defend and file your own application later

  • this means you want to defend against the claims in the application and then file your own application at a later date
  • only the claims in the application will be heard by the Tenancy Dispute Officer
  • an application filed by you at a later date will be heard at a separate hearing
  • these two hearings will result in two decisions and two orders

    Filing additional evidence

    Applicants can file additional evidence by serving it on the RTDRS and the respondent at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Evidence must be submitted in person or by mail.

    Disputes resolved before hearing

    If you’ve resolved your dispute before the hearing, there are a couple of options:

    1. The applicant can withdraw their application by sending the RTDRS a Notice of Withdrawal form (PDF, 105 KB). You should also advise the respondent that you’ve done this. The RTDRS does not refund fees for withdrawn matters.
    2. The applicant can choose to continue the process. The applicant and respondent will attend the hearing and tell the Tenancy Dispute Officer at the beginning of the hearing that they have resolved the dispute.

    If the resolution is acceptable to the Tenancy Dispute Officer, they may issue a Consent Order. This order documents the agreement and is signed by the applicant and respondent. It also outlines next steps if the agreement is not kept, so that the applicant and respondent do not have to make another application or attend another hearing.

    Contact this service

    780-644-3000
    (Edmonton)

    310-0000, then
    780-644-3000 (toll-free)

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    Related services

    Document Service Tips (PDF, 2 pages)

    RTDRS Rules of Practice and Procedure (PDF, 29 pages)

    Rental premises search: