RTDRS- Process of Serving the Respondent

The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on legal issues within the Province of Alberta. The purpose of this topic is to inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic discusses the process of giving the documents regarding a hearing with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) to the respondent. The legal words for giving the Application Package to the respondent(s) are “service” and “serve”.

Once your application to the RTDRS has been reviewed you will receive a Notice of Hearing form that provides you with the date, time, and location of the hearing. The filed Application Form and evidence, along with the Notice of Hearing are called the “Application Package.” These documents are important as they need to be served to the respondent.

You must serve the Application Package to the Respondent(s) at least 3 clear days before the hearing date. The date of service, date of hearing, weekends and holidays are not counted as part of these clear days.  For example, if the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, service must be completed no later than the previous Wednesday. It is important that you serve the Application Package on each respondent. 

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

  • Personal Service:  A Landlord may serve the Application Package to the Tenant(s) or non-tenant occupant(s) personally. Dates and times, and location of the attempted and/or completed personal service must be noted and kept. This information will be needed when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Landlord form.
  • Registered Mail:  A Landlord may serve the Application Package by registered mail, sending it to the rental premises address. Service by registered mail requires that Landlord keep all receipts and tracking numbers. Service is completed on the date the respondent signs for the registered mail. 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 in plain sight of the rental premises (*usually on the door used most often by the tenant).

Please note that if the Tenant no longer lives at the residential premises, the Landlord may apply to the RTDRS to serve the documents in another way.  This is called “Substitutional Service.” If this is the case, the Landlord must complete a Substitutional Service Affidavit Form (available on the RTDRS website), in which they will list the attempts that they made to serve either personally or by posting.  Once this is complete, the Tenancy Dispute Officer will make a review of the Affidavit and will make a decision.

If you are the tenant, then you may use the following methods to serve the Application Package to the Landlord(s):

  • Personal Service: A Tenant may serve the Application Package to the Landlord(s) personally.  Dates and times, and location of the attempted and/or completed personal service must be noted and kept. This information will be needed when filling out the Affidavit of Service by Tenant form.
  • Registered Mail: Service by registered mail to the address where Tenant pays the rent or the address in the Notice of Hearing that was given to Tenant.  All receipts and tracking numbers must be kept.
  • If the Landlord 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). Service can be personal or by registered mail.

Once service has been completed, if it was done by personal service, the person that served the documents must complete the appropriate Affidavit of Service Form (available from RTDRS website).  If the service was done by a process server, the server must complete the Affidavit of Service Form. Once the correct Affidavit of Service form is completed, it must be commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths. In case of registered mail, the Landlord or Tenant must give the Commissioner the postal receipt, with the tracking number and the Signature of Certificate of Delivery Confirmation document (available from RTDRS website).

Please note that the Filing of the Affidavit of Service must be made before or on the date of hearing. 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.

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 (must include one business day) prior to the hearing.

Dial-A-Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.