You filed a request with the Tribunal administratif du logement (TAL, formerly the Régie du logement or rental board), but you don’t know how to notify the person you are making a claim against, what to bring to the hearing at the TAL or how the hearing will unfold. You are also wondering if you should have a lawyer with you.
In this article, Éducaloi explains various aspects of hearings before the TAL.
What does it mean to “notify” your request?
A request at the TAL is called an “application”. When you file your application, you must send a copy to the person (or company) you are making the claim against. The law refers to sending the claim as “notifying”. The purpose is to make sure the other person is aware of the reasons for your application and can prepare for the hearing.
Who is responsible for notifying?
The person making the application to the TAL – the “applicant” – must send the application to the other side. The applicant can be either a tenant or a landlord.
How should the application be sent?
The application can be sent by:
- registered mail,
- bailiff (also known as serving), or
- any other method that makes it possible to prove the document was sent, such as hand–to-hand delivery with a signed receipt.
The defendant might not pick up an application sent by registered or certified mail. In this case, you must send it another way, such as by bailiff (notification will then be called “service”). In its decision, the TAL can order the defendant to reimburse the costs of the second attempt to notify by bailiff.
Proof of Notification
You must prove to the TAL that the other side received a copy of your application. If you notified the other side through registered mail, you can contact Canada Post to verify that the envelope was received. If a bailiff served the application, the bailiff’s report is your proof that the other side received it. Where the application is delivered by hand, an acknowledgement of receipt with the recipient’s signature can be used as proof. (See “How should the application be sent?” above.)
Documents to be filed with the TAL: As the applicant, you must file with the TAL proof of notification and a list of your evidence. The TAL will close your file if it does not receive proof of notification within 45 days after your application is first filed.
You can ask the TAL for reimbursement of the costs of notification. The TAL can accept or refuse to reimburse you.
Be aware that the rules are different for an application for setting the rent.
Consult the TAL website for information on the calculation for setting the rent.
Can I change my application?
Yes. As the applicant, you can change or add to your application through an “amendment”. There are no costs for amending. An amendment must be made prior to the hearing at the TAL and sent to the other side. You must provide proof of notification. You must also file a copy of the amended application with the TAL.
Note: You can verbally amend your application at the hearing in the presence of the other side, but only if the administrative judge (formerly known as commissioner) authorizes you to.
Will my case automatically be postponed if I cannot attend the hearing?
Not necessarily. If you cannot be present on the day of the hearing, you have a choice: you can either request a postponement or you can be represented by someone who will act on your behalf.
If you are requesting a postponement, you must give the TAL a written document saying the other side agrees to the postponement
At the hearing, the TAL can postpone the case to a later date on the written or verbal request of one of the parties.
You can also be represented at the hearing by someone you choose. This person, your “mandatary”, is responsible for defending your interests. You can be represented by a lawyer, relative, spouse or friend. At the hearing, your mandatary must show the TAL a written document in which you give permission for the mandatary to represent you. This document is called a “mandate”
How do I name someone to act on my behalf at the TAL?
You can do this by giving someone a mandate. A mandate is an authorization you give to the person you’ve chosen to act on your behalf. The person you choose is called a “mandatary”.
A mandate for someone to act for you at the TAL must be written, unless you are represented by a lawyer or your spouse..
It must say why you cannot attend the hearing, the name and address of the person who will represent you, and the person’s family relationship to you, if there is one. That person must represent you for free.
Valid reasons for being absent include an automobile accident, illness, the death of a loved one or work outside the country. Remember that only the TAL can decide whether the reason for your absence is valid.
Your mandatary can do these things on your behalf
- request that your case be postponed
- proceed with the hearing in your place
Note: it is important to clearly indicate the limits of what the person acting for you can do so that there are no misunderstandings.
When can a hearing at the TAL be postponed?
You can postpone your hearing to a later date if you and the other side agree to postpone, and you file a written agreement about this with the TAL.
Your mandatary can also ask the TAL to postpone your case. However, the TAL is free to accept or refuse this request. To avoid problems your mandatary can try to reach an agreement with the other side before the hearing and have this person sign a written agreement to postpone the case. Then the agreement must be filed with the TAL. Your case will then be automatically postpon
The TAL is suggesting “conciliation”. What is this and do I have to go to conciliation?
The TAL usually suggests conciliation: this is an effort to resolve the dispute between you and the other side without going to a hearing.
You are not obliged to go to a conciliation meeting or reach a conciliation agreement.
But if you and other side do accept conciliation and reach an agreement, the TAL can close your file.
If you go to conciliation but don’t reach an agreement, the TAL will hear your case.
How does a hearing before the TAL work?
Once you have filed an application with the TAL, you will be sent a notice with the date, time and place for a hearing of your case. This notice will also be sent to the other party You must be present at the time indicated on the notice.
At the hearing, you must bring proof of notification of the application (if you are the one who made the application), and all the evidence needed to prove your case.
At the beginning of the hearing, both people involved in the case and any witnesses must promise to tell the truth.
During the hearing, you should be respectful of the TAL official hearing the case – the administrative judge and the other party. You should also dress appropriately.
The administrative judge will listen to the evidence of the person making the application to the TAL, and the statements of any witnesses called to appear.
The administrative judge will then listen to evidence presented by the defendant – the person against whom the application is filed.
The person who made the application can ask questions of the defendant’s witnesses.
Bring a translator with you to the hearing if you feel that language may be a problem.
Once the evidence has been presented by both sides, the administrative judge will listen to the arguments of both sides and make a decision based on everything that was said and all the documents presented. The decision will be sent to both sides by mail.
Can I force someone to be a witness?
Yes. To do this, you must have a bailiff serve the witness with an official notice called a subpoena, which is issued by the TAL. The witness must receive the subpoena at least three days before the hearing. Anyone who gets a subpoena must respect it unless they have a very good reason, such as an illness or being out of the country.
A witness must have direct and personal knowledge of the facts. People with only indirect knowledge learned through another person cannot be witnesses because all they can say is what they heard from someone else.
If you call a witness, it is a good idea to prepare questions for the witness in advance.
What can be submitted as evidence at the TAL?
In addition to the documents you want to submit as evidence, be sure that you (or your mandatary) bring a copy of your lease and any notices of changes the lease. If you gave someone a mandate to act for you, that person should bring the written mandate.
These documents can be submitted as evidence:
- if you are a tenant, notices you’ve received from the landlord
- any letters from the other side
- bills and receipts
- temperature or humidity reports
- a copy of the former tenant’s lease
- expert reports
Note: You must provide three copies of any document submitted: one for the other side, one for the administrative judge and one for yourself. All photos should clearly indicate the date on which they were taken and what they show.
You can also submit decisions of the TAL or the courts in previous similar cases.
A report by an expert that is relevant to the dispute and relates to your apartment can be entered as evidence. However, the person who wrote the report must be present at the hearing to answer questions and be cross-examined (questioned) by the other side.
Written Statements of Witnesses
You can submit written statements for your witnesses. This is a written statement that replaces actual statements by a witness during the hearing.
To do this, you must get the agreement of the other side to accept a written statement instead of having the witness attend the hearing. You must also send the other side a copy of the statement. If the other side refuses to accept the written statement, it is up to the administrative judge to decide whether to accept it as evidence.
The written statement will not be accepted unless you can demonstrate that it was impossible for the witness to attend in person (death, illness, out of the country, etc.).