Rental agreement dispute resolution

The rules for renting property in the Northwest Territories are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act. The act appoints a rental officer to enforce the act, provide the public with information, and resolve disputes between landlords and tenants who have entered into residential tenancy agreements. Decisions by the rental officer have the same force as a Supreme Court order. The legalization of cannabis will require both landlords and tenants to be aware of how the legislation will affect the usage of cannabis in their residences.

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to attempt to resolve disputes themselves. Often providing information to the parties regarding their legal rights and obligations helps the parties resolve the dispute; however a formal dispute resolution process is available to both landlords and tenants. The dispute resolution process can be initiated by a landlord or tenant by filing an Application to a Rental Officer.

Applications can be completed online. Completed forms must be signed, have two copies made (3 in total) and any required filing fees need to be paid. After that, the application can be submitted by mail or delivered to the office. Payment instructions are here.

On the filing of an application, a rental officer may investigate to determine the facts related to the dispute. Applications involving the physical condition of premises are often best understood through an inspection of the unit. Similarly, applications involving third parties, such as utility suppliers are often investigated.

Occasionally, the investigation leads to a resolution of the dispute by agreement. For example, a tenant may file an application when a security deposit has not been returned and no statement of the deposit has been provided to the tenant. A brief investigation into the matter may reveal that the landlord was unaware of the new address of the former tenant or of his responsibility to produce a statement. The production of the statement may lead to agreement between the parties and the withdrawal of the application.

Occasionally, the parties will agree to a mediated solution to the problem without recourse to a formal hearing or the issuance of an order. If the parties wish to try to settle the issue by mediation, the rental officer will assist them in the resolution of the matter and the preparation of a mediated agreement.

Often, landlords and tenants cannot agree or, more often, one of the parties wants a decision which can be enforced, should the other party fail to abide by that decision. In these cases, the rental officer will hold a hearing and, after hearing the evidence and testimony of both parties, render a decision. The rental officer will issue a written order along with reasons for the decision. Orders by a rental officer may be filed in the Territorial Court and are deemed to be an order of that court when filed. Most disputes are settled in this manner as the majority of disputes concern non-payment of rent and an enforceable decision is desired by the applicant.

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