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A Primer on the Rhode Island Eviction Process

Evictions are an unfortunate reality that most Rhode Island landlords will likely have to do deal with at some point. It is crucial that landlords follow Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws to ensure that they do not end up tangled in a lengthy and costly legal process. Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorneys can assist in navigating the complex landlord-tenant system.

Even if a tenant is behind on rent or is otherwise violating their lease, landlords must still follow the legal process. This means that Rhode Island landlords cannot constructively evict a tenant. Constructive evictions are landlord behaviors that force a tenant to leave a property. Unlawful landlord behaviors include changing the locks, turning off utilities, emptying the property, or failing to fix essential aspects of the property.

When a tenant is 15-days past due on their rent, a landlord can begin the eviction process. Rhode Island law requires the landlord to serve the tenant with a 5-Day Demand Notice for Nonpayment of Rent. This notice must layout any violations and clearly state the amounts owed. Further, the notice must state that the owed amounts are to be paid within five days of when the landlord mailed the notice. Finally, the notice requires the landlord to inform the tenant that court action will commence if they do not pay the arrears.

If the tenant does not get current by the 6th day, the landlord must file and serve a summons and complaint. Rhode Island landlords must know that a tenant can still avoid evictions if they pay the rent before the summons and complaint are filed. Thus, it is critical for property owners to understand the following time requirements.

If a landlord needs to evict a tenant for anything other than nonpayment of rent, they need to serve or mail a 20-day notice. This notice must include specific details about the lease violations. A tenant may try to remedy these violations, but they will not be able to do so if they have received a 20-day notice within the past six months for the same issue. The notice should inform the tenant that they will be in default if they do not file an answer within 20 days.

Landlords who have a month-to-month lease with a tenant can send a 30-day termination notification. A 30-day termination does not require a reason, as long as it is not because of a retaliatory or discriminatory motive.

If the case proceeds to a hearing, the landlord must establish their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” It is essential that landlords have an experienced attorney who can help to refute any allegations made by the tenants. If landlords do not follow the procedural requirements, a tenant may remain in the property for an extended period. This extended tenancy can result in expensive fees and losses for a landlord.

Do You Need Help Evicting a Rhode Island Tenant?

The attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC have extensive experience handling Rhode Island real estate matters, including evictions. Rhode Island landlords who need to evict a tenant must strictly adhere to procedural guidelines. An attorney is crucial in these cases because one misstep can result in a significant delay. The attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can assist Rhode Island landlords in understanding and enforcing their rights and remedies. Contact our Rhode Island eviction law firm at 401-300-4055 to schedule a free consultation.

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