Hearing

Preparing for a hearing

How to prepare for the hearing

The management conference and the pre-hearing conference

Introduction

You have submitted an application to the Tribunal administratif du logement or received a copy of an application. Whether you’re an applicant or a defendant, it’s important that you carefully prepare for the hearing instead of leaving anything to chance. There is no written challenge proceeding that the defendant(s) must submit to the Tribunal, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that needs to be done in advance of the hearing. This guide is intended as a resource for both applicants and defendants.

Notification of the application

The defendant (the person against whom a proceeding is brought) should know the reason for and subject of the application, so they can be prepared to respond at the hearing.

After submitting their application to the Tribunal, the applicant must notify the other parties involved, including a copy of their application along with supporting documents or a list of supporting documents stating that they are available upon request.

The applicant must then, within 45 days after the application was first submitted, add proof of that notification (for example, a bailiff’s affidavit) and the list of supporting documents to the application file with the Tribunal. If proof of notification is not submitted within this period, the Tribunal will close the file. However, the Tribunal can choose to summon the parties to a hearing before the end of the 45 days, even if the proof of notification has not been filed. In that case, the proof of notification must be produced at the hearing, or else the application will be rejected.

Notification of an application to fix rent does not need to include supporting documents nor a list of supporting documents, and such a list does not need to be submitted to the Tribunal.

Notice of the application may be sent via:

  • Registered mail
  • Bailiff
  • Courier service

In all cases, the Tribunal will assess the proof of notification at the hearing and judge whether it is sufficient to show that the defendant did indeed receive a copy of the application.

If the applicant is unable to successfully notify the defendant(s) via the usual methods (for example, if the application is returned by the courier or the bailiff is unable to notify them), the Tribunal may, upon request, authorize a different method of notification, such as a public notice. Contact one of the Tribunal administratif du logement offices for more information.

Changes of address

Notice of the hearing will be sent to the addresses declared in the file. You should make sure that this information is up to date and inform the Tribunal and the other parties of any changes of address, since the Tribunal may hold a hearing and reach a decision even in your absence.

Also, if you fail to inform the Tribunal of your change of address, you cannot ask for revocation of the decision (in other words, for the Tribunal’s decision to be nullified) on the grounds that you received notice of the hearing at your former address.

Notification costs

If you are the applicant and you want the other party to be ordered to pay the costs of giving notice about the application, you should bring documentation of your notification related expenses (for example, receipts) to the hearing. However, it is up to the Tribunal whether or not it sees fit to award such costs.

Amendments

The application may be completed or corrected by an amendment, without charge. Such amendments must be submitted to the Tribunal administratif du logement and the other party or parties notified before the hearing. You must provide the Tribunal with proof of notification at the beginning of the hearing.

If an amendment adds a party to the application, they must be sent a copy of the original application and a copy of the amendment when they are notified. The proof of notification for this new party must then be sent to the Tribunal within 45 days after the amendment was submitted.

Note that an amendment may be made verbally at the hearing, if the other party is present and if the Tribunal authorizes it.

Mandating

If you have a serious reason why you cannot attend the hearing, you can mandate another person to represent you.

Who can represent you?

A lawyer, your spouse, a relative, a person connected by marriage or civil union (for example, your brother- or sister in law) or a friend can represent you at the hearing.

A company or cooperative may be represented by an officer, a director, an employee (if they are exclusively employed by it) or a lawyer.

In all cases, if the application only concerns a claim of $15,000 or less, a lawyer cannot represent you.

How do I mandate someone?

Unless you’re represented by a lawyer or your spouse, the mandate must be in writing and signed by you and must state the reason(s) for your absence. The person you mandate to represent you (your mandatary) must agree to do so without compensation.

A mandatary of a company or cooperative must be authorized to act by a resolution of the Board of Directors, unless the representative is a lawyer.

Role of the mandatary: Your mandatary acts in your name at the hearing. However, they may not testify unless they have personal knowledge of the facts. Otherwise, they must be able to prove these facts using witnesses or other evidence, as you would also need to do.

For more information, please see the chart Who may represent a person at a hearing.

Assistance of a third party

You may also be assisted at the hearing by a third party, for reasons such as your age, your state of health, a vulnerable situation, your level of language proficiency, etc. The person assisting you must do so free of charge. They can reassure you and help you handle, read and understand documents. However, this person may not represent you. They cannot give you legal advice or opinions, examine or cross examine witnesses, or plead before the Tribunal. This help must be obtained free of charge. Being helped by a trusted third party does not prevent you from also being represented.

Postponement

You may have the hearing postponed to a later date, if you submit the written consent of the other party.

Otherwise, you or your mandatary can request a postponement in writing or do so verbally at the hearing. In that case, it will be up to the Tribunal to decide whether the postponement is justified, given the circumstances of your case.

You should give a copy of your request for postponement to the other party, however, or inform them that you or your mandatary will be verbally requesting a postponement at the hearing.

Agreement before the hearing

If you reach an agreement before the hearing takes place, the Tribunal will close the case once a copy of the agreement, signed by all parties, is filed. Alternately, the Tribunal will suspend the case if the applicant requests it in writing. In that case, the application will only be placed on the roll at the written request of one of the parties.

The Tribunal administratif du logement has a conciliation service. This is a simple, fast, voluntary, free and confidential service that allows you to meet with the other party with a conciliator present, so you can try to find a solution to your dispute.

For more information, see the section Conciliation between lessor and lessee.

Evidence

Read the application and any amendments with care; you will find all the things that you will have to prove or refute during the hearing.

The applicant must prove each allegation in the application using documents and/or testimony.

Similarly, the application (and amendments) contains the things that the other party will have to admit, clarify or refute, using documents and/or testimony.

However, the person claiming to have fulfilled their obligation must prove that they did so (for example, a lessee who claims to have paid their rent or a lessor who claims to have done repairs).

The law has established rules about how evidence can be given before a tribunal, and the Tribunal administratif du logement must apply those rules.

Evidence to present at the hearing

In all cases, you must submit:

  • Proof of notification for the application and any amendments
  • The lease and any subsequent notices of modifications to it
  • The mandate, if any

Depending on the nature of the application, you may need to provide additional evidence, such as:

Documents

At the hearing, you may have to provide certain documents as evidence. For example:

  • Notices required by law (for example, Notice of rent increase and modification of another condition of the lease or Notice of repossession)
  • The formal notice
  • Correspondence
  • The new lessee’s lease (for example, after the former lessee abandoned the premises)
  • The former lessee’s lease, for an application filed by a new lessee for rent to be fixed
  • Proof of advertising (newspaper clippings and corresponding invoices)
  • Invoices and proofs of payment
  • Photographs
  • Readings of temperature and humidity levels

OR

  • Any other relevant documents

If there is something in writing that you want to use as proof, you must produce it at the hearing.

Note: When you send documents to the other party, you must save proof that they were sent and received and bring this proof to the hearing.

Note: Petitions are only admissible if the signatories are present at the hearing.

Witnesses

To make sure that a witness is at the hearing to testify, you must send them a subpoena by a bailiff, at your expense, at least three days before the date of the hearing; this subpoena must be signed by an administrative judge, a special clerk of the Tribunal or your lawyer. The Tribunal may reduce this time limit.

The witness must have first hand knowledge of the facts. Having been told that facts occurred or that something was said proves neither the facts nor what was said. Only a person with first hand knowledge of the facts may testify about them.

Depending on the nature of the application, you may need testimony from an appraiser, expert or inspector. Unless the Tribunal decides otherwise, this witness will need to be present at the hearing to give their appraisal, expert opinion or report.

Written testimony

If the other party agrees, a written declaration may replace personal testimony at the hearing.

If the other party does not agree, the Tribunal may, in exceptional circumstances, accept written testimony. If you want such an authorization, you must notify the other party or send them a copy of the document as early as possible before the hearing, unless the Tribunal decides otherwise.

The Tribunal will only accept such a document if you can show that it is impossible for the witness to appear or unreasonable to require it, and that the declaration was made under circumstances that reasonably guarantee its accuracy.

It must be truly impossible to subpoena the witness to appear (for example, a deceased witness or one who lives outside the province). A simple difficulty (for example, a witness who does not want to come to the hearing, says they are afraid or has work on the day of the hearing) is not sufficient.

In some cases, the Tribunal may also authorize a report or other document to be presented as testimony even if the author is not present. This generally concerns reports or other documents signed by a physician, police officer, fire fighter, an inspector appointed under a law or regulation, or another qualified individual designated by the Tribunal to carry out a site visit.

Remember that these cases are rare exceptions to the rule. Generally speaking, the witness must be present.

The Tribunal may also require the presence of any witness, as it deems necessary.

The hearing

Once you have received notice of the hearing from the Tribunal, make sure to:

  • Reread the application carefully
  • Gather all the documents you need as evidence
  • Clearly label your documents and put them in order such that you can find everything easily at the time of the hearing. This will save time for everyone, both those at the hearing with you and those waiting to be called before the Tribunal.
  • Determine who any witnesses will be and, if applicable, summon them by subpoena

You must be present at the time indicated on the notice of hearing. All parties and anyone assisting them at the hearing must dress properly and behave respectfully.

Except in rare exceptions, the Tribunal will make an audio recording of the hearing.

At the beginning of the hearing, the parties identify themselves and must solemnly state that they will tell the truth.

All parties then present their evidence, beginning with the applicant. Each party has the right to question the witnesses.

At the hearing, the Tribunal provides fair and impartial assistance to all parties. The Tribunal may not give advice, however, nor act as a lawyer for a party.

The hearing concerns only the content of the application and amendments. The Tribunal may refuse to hear a witness or accept a written document if the judge considers that it is not relevant to the dispute.

In making its decision, the Tribunal may only consider the evidence presented, and only if it is relevant and complies with the rules for admissible evidence.

Reclaiming evidence

Once the case is closed, you should reclaim any evidence (exhibits) you submitted or documents you sent. If you do not, evidence may be destroyed one year after the date of the Tribunal’s final decision or when the dispute between the parties is officially concluded.