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Rhode Island Landlords Face Difficulty Evicting Problematic Tenants in Times of Covid-19

The state and federal guidelines and regulations that have been established to protect Rhode Island tenants from eviction during a global pandemic have worked well to prevent homelessness among vulnerable populations and prevent the spread of Covid-19 that could be worsened by housing insecurity. Although the eviction moratoriums and other tenant protections were established to protect financially unstable residents from becoming homeless as a result of the economic effects of the pandemic response, these protections have also served to make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants for reasons other than the simple inability to pay rent. A local news article discusses one such case, where a problematic tenant was eventually ordered to vacate a leased property after a long legal battle.

The tenant referenced in the recently published article had entered into a short term lease with the owner of a waterfront condominium in Newport during the winter and spring of 2019-2020. Although the lease expired on April 30 and the tenant stopped making payments after the lease term ended, she refused to move out of the condominium. The landlord could not pursue an eviction case against the tenant for her failure to leave until July 1st, as a moratorium on evictions was placed into effect because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The landlord was especially prejudiced by the moratorium in this case, as the value of the waterfront property varies significantly based on the season, and the tenant’s refusal to leave before the summer was especially harmful.

After the Rhode Island eviction moratorium expired in July, the landlord filed a case to evict the tenant. However, the tenant successfully delayed the eviction several times because of an alleged Covid-19 diagnosis. Eventually, in late September, a superior court judge finally heard the landlord’s claim, and ordered the tenant to vacate the property and pay over $30,000 in past-due rents and penalties. It is important to note that while eviction moratoriums and other protections for tenants may prevent them from being removed from a property, their contractual obligations to pay a fair value for the property do not cease. Thus, once a case is sorted out, the tenant can be held responsible for all that they owe, as well as additional fees for nonpayment and violation of other lease terms.

Contact a Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Attorney Today

If you are a Rhode Island property owner or landlord who is struggling with a difficult tenant and worried about the effect of eviction moratoriums on your ability to evict the tenant and collect the rent that is due, hiring a qualified Rhode Island eviction attorney may be the easiest way to get your property back and receive what you are owed under the contract. The Rhode Island landlord-tenant attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo are familiar with the state and federal rules concerning evictions in the time of Covid-19. We can help you hold problematic tenants accountable, while following the law and ensuring that public safety is not threatened. Contact us at Bilodeau Capalbo with any landlord-tenant issues, and we will help you achieve your goals. Call our offices at 401-300-4055 to schedule a consultation.

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