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gavel scale of justice - Property Damage Claim - How, when, where, to file in Alberta

Property Damage Claim – how, when, where, to file in Alberta

Do you believe you have a property damage claim?  Do you know how, when, and where to file in Alberta?

If your tenant’s security deposit doesn’t come close to covering the costs of the damage they wreaked on your property, and you’re also losing rental income until the property is repaired, you need to file a damage claim.

This blog post is a recap of’s Ask Nelda (almost) Anything interview on March 15th, 2022,  with special guest Don Gray of Edmonton Eviction Services. Don shared his expertise on how to file a winning Alberta landlord damage claim.

Before you start the process, it’s extremely important to prove the property’s condition before you rented it to tenants. If you haven’t completed a move-in/move-out inspection report with pictures, how will you prove the tenants damaged your property? Without a move-in/move-out inspection report, you could be hooped. To familiarize yourself with landlord responsibilities, including move-in/move-out inspection reports here is a link for Consumer Tips Information Booklet for Landlords.

Once you’ve established the damages exceed the cost of the security deposit AND you’ve 

completed a move-in/move-out inspection report, you can begin the process.

Document everything

Take pictures or videos of everything. You will be showing these to a judge who doesn’t know your property and is not familiar with your situation. Ask yourself what he/she needs to see to understand the extent of the damage. For example, if there are holes in walls, floors, etc., use some form of comparison such as a ruler or your hand to indicate the scale.

Document the damage in writing and describe it as best you can. If you have damaged appliances, include;

  • make, model, serial number
  • place of purchase, date purchased, original price
  • location of the item in your house

The message here is to be as thorough as possible so that the judge can easily see exactly what damage was done on the first read through.


If you choose to do the cleaning yourself, keep track of what you did and the time it took. Take photos and videos during this process, and pictures when everything is complete. Document everything in writing. In short, record before, during, and after photos and include written descriptions.

Establish repair costs

If you choose to repair the property yourself, establish the costs of materials and the amount of time required to complete repairs. If you outsource the repairs, get three quotes from three separate contractors. Judges expect landlords to be fair with costs and not overcharge.

Document damage to belongings

If belongings/furnishings were damaged, assess the costs of the possessions and provide copies and dates of purchases along with receipts. Before and after pictures/videos are very helpful as evidence.

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File a damage claim

Now that your documentation is in order, it’s time to make an application. Damage claims can be filed with the  Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) or with Civil Court.

The RTDRS is faster, and claims can be filed in person or online through the RTDRS eFiling Service. The landlord applications are online here Landlord’s Application for Damages. Once the application is filed, the RTDRS will give you a court date that is one-two months in the future.

Click these links for a description of the summary of the procedure and a summary of a damage claim with the RTDRS.

Applications can also be filed with the provincial court under the Residential Tenancies Act or the Mobile Home Site Tenancies Act and involve a longer process:

You can get these forms from the court office or online in the Court Forms section. You must also pay the prescribed filing fee when you file the notice of application and supporting affidavit. Once you’ve completed the forms and paid the fee you will be provided with a future court date.


After you’ve filed the notice of application and supporting affidavit and paid the prescribed filing fee, you must serve the documents on all tenants named in the damage report.

If you can prove a history of email correspondence with your tenant (emails, payment by e-transfer), you can request the RTDRS to allow serving by email. You can also serve by registered mail, or in person. If you tried to serve in person and were unsuccessful, the RTDRS permits you to serve the document by posting it on the tenant’s door. However, you will have to prove how/when you attempted to serve it (video, picture, with a date, time).

You won – how can you get paid?

If you have obtained your Judgment in Provincial Court Civil, a certified copy will be mailed to you and to the debtor. If you wish to use either of these enforcement processes, you must file the Certificate of Judgment with the Court of Queen’s Bench, then prepare a Writ of Enforcement. You can read the document for how to enforce a judgment.

Collecting money can be difficult if the tenant moves frequently, is unemployed, changes their name, or any other number of reasons. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to play detective, a good collection agency can be a valuable tool.

Lastly, before you file a damage claim, consider Don Gray’s top tips.

Don’s top tips

  1. Don’t file a damage claim unless it’s at least $2000 above the security deposit. Anything less than $2000 isn’t worth your time/expense.

For example, a ruined furnace can cost $5000-$6000 or more to replace. However, you need to bring in experts to prove it was willfully damaged, but it is worthwhile because of the high cost.

You can replace a stove for several hundred dollars, so it’s more cost-effective to replace it than to spend the time and money going to court. Sometimes you just need to grit your teeth and bear it.

  • Damage claims can be filed (tenants and landlords) for up to two years upon “discovery.”  Discovery of the problem for landlords is defined as at the point that you (the landlord) take possession. Tenants may discover you didn’t give them what they believe they deserve, or they are looking for an abatement of rent when they received their 10-day summary. Their point of discovery is when they received the 10-day summary.
  • If you include loss of rent with the damages, you need to show proof that you have attempted to advertise the property and provide advertising receipts as proof.

If the entire process sounds too time-consuming and onerous – outsourcing is an excellent option.

Do you have a story to share about your experience filing a damage claim? I’d love to hear about it [email protected]

Do you like these tips? There are plenty more you can take advantage of plus there are tools and educational resources for DIY landlords. 

Would you like to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing the fundamentals of landlording?

Sign up for the online landlord training Landlord Fundamentals 101. To save even more time and money, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching.

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