Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | July 28, 2010

From Decision to Enforcement

If you have ever been a landlord, it is likely you have been faced with a delinquent tenant or one who has fled rather than pay you his or her outstanding rent.

If you have ever pursued a tenant through the Residential Tenancy Branch, your all too aware that the “system” favours the tenants, no matter what the occasion and seemingly regardless of the stack of evidence you hold in your hand.

The purpose of this article is to add clarity to those who decide to follow the rules and work within the guidelines laid out by the Residential Tenancy Act and hopefully I will achieve that.

The RTB received on average 25,000 applications for resolution each year of which the majority are from landlords seeking monetary orders (for less than $25,000). While they may end up with an order (for the tenant to pay) in hand, that is as far as the RTB will go to assist you in your quest. Unfortunately, you still cannot engage a collection agency or a bailiff if the tenants refuse to ignore the order.

The next step towards enforcement is the courts, as they have the exclusive authority when it comes to enforcement. Once you are served the “Monetary Order” from the RTB, you should register that in Small Claims Court, the cost of which is about $100 (which is added to what the tenants already owe you). There is no hearing as the decision has already been made. Once registered, the Order has the same meaning and effect as a judgement of the Court and the provisions of the Court Order Enforcement Act apply.

When you register the RTB Order with the Courts, it becomes a public record and could be recorded against the former tenant’s credit record, causing them grief if they were to apply for a loan. From that point, you have ten years to pursue collection and if you can demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to do so, you can get a further ten years extension.

You can summons the tenants to a “payment hearing” at which time they will have to convince the judge why it is that they cannot pay you. The judge may prescribe a deadline for payment, holding the tenants in contempt of the court of they do not pay and even send them to jail if he or she feels so inclined. If the tenants have any assets, the Court could issue an order to seize and sell their assets and/or garnishee their wages.

If the tenants own property, then you should register the Order in the Supreme Court rather than the Small Claims Court, as the former has jurisdiction to order the sale of the land to satisfy a judgment.

If the former tenants have moved out of the Province, providing you have their forwarding address, you can still apply for a Monetary Order and serve them by registered mail and the hearing will be held. It doesn’t matter whether they are now residing in Japan or Australia, they will still be considered served. Our courts also have reciprocal enforcement orders with Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Idaho and Colorado, plus the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and Germany.

So don’t be faint of heart.

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