Judicial Review of a Decision by the Residential Tenancy Branch

How can I get the courts to review a decision made by the Residential Tenancy Branch?

BC Landlord Guide- Judicial Review of Decision
How can I get the courts to review a decision made by the Residential Tenancy Branch?

The Supreme Court of British Columbia (the Court) has the power to review the decisions of tribunals that are subject to the Administrative Tribunals Act. The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is one such tribunal, meaning that the Court can be asked to undertake a review of any decision that results from either an Application for Dispute Resolution (and a related cross-application) or an Application for Review Consideration.

In reviewing the RTB’s decision, the Court will examine both its procedural and substantive aspects. In other words, the Court will inquire as to whether the applicable procedural rules were followed and applied fairly leading up to the decision and whether the substance of the arbitrator’s decision met the applicable standard of review.

The RTB is deemed to be an “expert tribunal” that has specialized knowledge and experience with respect to residential tenancies. This means that the Court will give a greater amount of deference to the decisions made by the RTB. As such, in its review, the Court will:

  • not interfere with a finding of fact or law or an exercise of discretion by the RTB unless it is deemed to be patently unreasonable;
  • decide on questions about the application of common law rules of natural justice and procedural fairness by asking whether the RTB acted fairly; and
  • review all other matters by applying the standard of correctness.

A party seeking to apply to the Court for a judicial review of a decision by the RTB must do so within 60 days from the date of the decision. Once a judicial review is filed, a party may also make an application to the Court for an interim stay of the RTB’s decision under review.

A judicial review is not an appeal and the Court has no power to change the RTB’s original decision. The Court may confirm the RTB’s decision or set it aside and order a new hearing. When ordering a matter to be reheard, the Court may also provide specific directions to the RTB for the purposes of the rehearing.

Last revised: April 17, 2016

  • Judicial review is generally a complicated procedure involving rules that are more complex to navigate than those of a RTB dispute resolution hearing. As such, if you are attempting to undertake a judicial review on your own, unless you are already very familiar with the court system, be prepared to do a great deal of research. In order to maximize your chances of success at judicial review, consider retaining a lawyer with experience in administrative law to assist you with your preparation. When looking to retain a lawyer, keep in mind that you have 60 days to apply for a judicial review and make sure that you see a lawyer well before this deadline.
  • Keep in mind that a judicial review is not a chance to re-argue your case. Rather, the judicial review focuses on whether the RTB had the authority to make a particular decision, whether it did so in a patently unreasonable fashion and whether the RTB acted fairly in applying the procedural rules. If you are successful with your judicial review, you will have the opportunity to re-argue your case before the RTB. However, this does not guarantee that you will win when the RTB hears your case again.

This article explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada and is not a substitute for legal advice specific to your situation.