RTDRS- Process of Serving the Respondent

480.1 RTDRS- Process of Serving the Respondent

The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer through our lawyer referral service line.

This topic discusses the process of giving the documents regarding a hearing with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to the respondent. ‘Serve’ is the legal word for delivering a legal notice to another party. 

After you file your application with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS), you will be given an Application Package which includes:

  • the Notice of Hearing form, 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 does NOT 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.

Se the Document Service Tip Sheet for detailed information on how to serve an RTDRS Application Package. 

If you, the applicant, are the Landlord you may serve the application package to the Tenant(s) in the following ways:

  • Personal Service: 
    •  A Landlord may serve the Application Package to the Tenant(s) or non-tenant occupant(s) personally. 
    • You must make several attempts to serve the Application Package. The service attempts should be on different days and at different times throughout the day (morning, afternoon and evenings, if necessary). 
  • Dates and times, and location of the attempted and/or completed personal service must be noted and kept.
  • If you are unable to serve the tenant personally at the rental premises, you can serve them personally at any location. 
  • Registered Mail:  Service by registered mail requires that Landlord keep all receipts and tracking numbers.
  • If the Tenant is a corporation, the Application Package may be served at the registered office address of the corporation, as shown on a corporate registration search (*available at Registry offices).
  • If the Tenant is absent, or evading service, the Landlord may serve an adult (18 years or older) who appears to live within the premises, or post the Application Package(s) in plain sight of the rental premises (*usually on the door used most often by the tenant).

What if I cannot serve the respondent by the methods listed above? 

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 online, you may have the affidavit commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths and submit online via the RTDRS eFiling Service.


Tenants can serve documents in one of the following ways:

  1. Personal service

You can serve the Application Package on the landlord by giving it to them personally at any location.

  1. 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.  

NOTE: The Tenancy Dispute Officer does not have the authority to force a party to provide a physical address. 

After the RTDRS documents have been served:

After you have served the Application Package on the respondent, you will have to:

  1. Fill out the appropriate Affidavit of Service form
  2. Take the completed Affidavit of Service form to a Commissioner for Oaths to be commissioned.
    • The RTDRS has Commissioner for Oaths in the Edmonton and Calgary offices.
    • If the Application Package was served by registered mail, you must provide 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 their website).
  3. 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 online through your RTDRS eFiling Service account.  

Furthermore, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will decide whether the documents were served properly. RTDRS does not accept service by regular mail, or by placing documents in mailboxes, under doors, or inside the rental premises, unless the Tenancy Dispute Officer has approved that method.

If you have been served with an RTDRS Application 

If you have been served with an RTDRS Application package you must attend the hearing on the date and time indicated on the Notice of Hearing form. If you are unable to attend the hearing in person you can contact the RTDRS office to provide a telephone number that you can be reached at. Alternatively, you may have a representative attend on your behalf. If you or your representative do not attend, the hearing may proceed in your absence and an order may be issued against you. This order may have serious consequences for you.

You can defend yourself in one of three ways:

  1. Provide evidence in defence of the application.
  2. Provide evidence in defence of the application and file a counter-application.
  3. Provide evidence in defence of the application and file an application at a later date.

Attend the hearing on the date and time specified in the Notice of Hearing form. If you are attending in person, plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to the designated hearing time.

Defending an Application 

After service on Respondent, the Respondent can file a Counter-Application to counter the Application, or the Respondent can defend against the Application.  Any documents regarding the defence of Respondent must be served on Applicant at least 24 hours prior to the hearing. Applicants may then file any additional evidence by serving it on the RTDRS, as well as the respondent, at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.