The Complaint Process

Landlords, tenants and tenant organizations may file complaints with the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs (OLTA or Landlord-Tenant Affairs). A “complaint” is a document that outlines the alleged facts of the case, identifies what the complainant (the person filing the complaint) wants in terms of money or other type of relief to resolve the complaint, and why they believe they are entitled to that relief. The complaint also identifies the “respondent” (the party against whom the complaint is brought).

Before filing a complaint

Before filing a complaint, we encourage you to try to talk to the other party to resolve your differences informally. If you believe this approach will not be successful or you are not comfortable with it, you may choose to file a complaint. Before filing a complaint, it behooves you to become informed about the applicable laws and guidance. OLTA provides general information and assistance to tenants and landlords. Refer to the Landlord-Tenant Handbook or contact OLTA through MC311.

File A Complaint

  • Your name, current address, daytime and evening telephone numbers, and email address.
  • The name, address, daytime telephone number and email address of the party against whom you are filing the complaint.
  • The address of the rental property and the type of property.
  • The specifics of the complaint.
  • The remedy you are seeking.

Once you have filled out the complaint form send a copy to the other party and wait seven days to allow time for them to respond. Even in the most difficult circumstances, sometimes the other party may try to resolve the issues once they receive a complaint form.

After one week, if you do not believe the complaint has been resolved, send a copy of the complaint form to OLTA at the address on the form. If possible, please include a copy of the lease and any other documentation (e.g., photographs, emails) that support your allegations.

After filing a complaint

OLTA processes all complaints and assigns each one a case number and a Landlord-Tenant Investigator, both of which are documented in an acknowledgment letter. The Investigator is a neutral fact-finder, examining documents and interviewing the parties and others to determine whether there may have been a violation of the law or the lease.

The Investigator will always attempt to conciliate the complaint; i.e., see whether the complainant and respondent can reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This may involve holding a conciliation conference with both parties attending.

If the parties reach an appropriate resolution, the Investigator may draft an agreement to be signed by both parties and an OLTA representative. In many cases, a formal, written agreement is not necessary. The agreement does not mean that either party admits guilt. Rather, it is an agreement made in good faith to resolve the dispute. A violation of the agreement, however, may result in legal action.

If the Investigator is unable to resolve the dispute through conciliation, OLTA will refer the complaint to the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs (COLTA) for adjudication. COLTA will either accept the case and hold a hearing or dismiss the case.

File A Complaint