By Alan Walsh, QCAT Adjudicator
Preparing for a QCAT hearing starts from the moment you fill out an application or counter-application for a residential tenancy dispute.
Like the foundation of a house on which the integrity of the structure above it depends, proper preparation is the foundation on which your case may succeed or fail. Poor preparation will undermine your prospects of success.
Here are some tips on how best to go about things.
Be clear in your language when filling out the form.
Set out exactly what you are claiming. It helps to refer to sections of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act.
Do some research and use the RTA website as a resource.
Briefly set out, in date order, the facts and the reasons why you are asking for the orders you want. Stick to what is relevant.
Consider what documents you need to support your claim.
Arrange them in date order and put a number at the bottom right of each page.
This makes it easier for you to quickly find documents during the hearing.
File these documents with your application or counter-application.
Provide a sufficient number of copies so that each Respondent can be served. If you wish to photocopy documents at QCAT, you may be charged a fee.
Try to avoid bringing new documents to the hearing because this might lead to an adjournment. Not only must the other party be afforded a reasonable opportunity to read and respond to your documents where necessary, but also the adjudicator has to read and consider them as well.
It’s a good idea to review your case and all the documents exchanged between the parties the day before the hearing to consider where the strengths and weaknesses of your case lie.
Be prepared to admit things that are not in dispute.
Narrow down in note form on a prompt sheet what is in dispute and how you will address this on the hearing day.
Be courteous, polite and respectful to others at the hearing. Disrespectful, combative and disruptive behaviour will reflect adversely on you and your case and won’t be tolerated.
Don’t interrupt others when they are speaking. Rather, make notes of the points you want to raise and do so when you are given the opportunity later, as you will be.
Answer adjudicator questions honestly and directly. Being evasive affects your credibility and can be self-defeating.
Observing these guidelines will help you in the presentation of your case. Ignoring them will likely have the opposite effect.
For more information on residential tenancy matters, access QCAT’s website.