In accordance with a federal order recently filed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rhode Island district courts have extended an existing moratorium on residential evictions until the end of the year. The CDC has ordered courts in all 50 states to forbid landlords from evicting their residential tenants for nonpayment of rent to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As described in the state and federal administrative orders themselves, as well as a news report discussing the implications of the extension, tenants who are unable to afford rent should be able to remain in their homes until at least January of 2021 if they meet the requirements of the moratorium.
In order for a delinquent tenant to invoke the federal protections of the moratorium and prevent their landlord from evicting them, the tenant must meet certain requirements and file a declaration with the landlord including sworn statements that: the tenant is unable to pay their full amount of rent due to financial hardship, that the tenant’s income falls below a certain threshold, that the tenant has used best efforts to obtain government assistance for rent or housing, that the tenant is using their best efforts to make partial rent payments when possible, that if the tenant were evicted they would be at risk of becoming homeless or forced to live in close quarters with other people, that the tenant understands they will still be responsible for all rents due under the lease agreements, including possible fees and interest, and that the tenant understands that the total amount of rent and other fees may become due immediately upon the expiration of the moratorium on January 1, 2021.
If a tenant delivers a valid declaration to their landlord at any time during an eviction proceeding, the case will not be heard by the courts until after the moratorium expires. Rhode Island residential evictions that are currently pending in the courts can continue unless and until the tenant delivers a declaration to the landlord, at which point the landlord is responsible for notifying the court that a declaration has been filed and the case will be reassigned to be heard next year.
Although residential evictions for nonpayment are currently halted, Rhode Island landlords may still be able to evict tenants who are violating other terms of their lease agreements in addition to nonpayment of rent. Furthermore, tenants who do not qualify for the moratorium or have not submitted a valid declaration to the landlord may still be evicted.
Do You Have Questions for a Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Attorney?
If you are a landlord or a tenant with questions about the application of this most recent eviction moratorium, you may benefit from the assistance of a qualified Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorney. Although most tenants are protected from eviction until next year, it may be possible to pursue a residential eviction sooner if certain conditions are met. The Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorneys with Bilodeau Capalbo can advise and assist you with any landlord-tenant issues that may arise during the pandemic. Call us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced landlord-tenant attorneys. Contact our offices at 401-300-4055 today.