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The Importance of Following Procedural Requirements in a Rhode Island Eviction

Rhode Island eviction proceedings, as well as those across New England, are designed to be streamlined in ways that allow summary cases to proceed quickly through the system to keep the courts from being overrun by those that could be quickly resolved. Because these summary proceedings are often simplified, state legislatures require that the procedural requirements to remove a tenant by summary proceedings are strictly followed. A landlord’s failure to strictly comply with the procedural requirements for summary eviction proceedings will often result in the denial of their claim, as is demonstrated in a recent decision by a state appellate court.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a landlord who sought to evict the defendants from a home for nonpayment of rent. Although state courts provide forms that landlords can serve on their tenants to initiate summary eviction proceedings, the plaintiff instead served the defendants with eviction documents he had drafted himself. The documents drafted by the landlord did not include a statement from the court forms notifying the tenant that the notice was not a court order to vacate the rental property, and that the tenant could remain on the premises while the landlord initiated formal eviction proceedings.

The defendant did not vacate the premises within the term specified in the eviction notice, and the landlord proceeded with a formal eviction. In response, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the eviction complaint because the initial notice did not include the information from the court form, and was therefore defective. The trial court found that state law requires the eviction notice to include the information which the landlord omitted, and agreed with the defendants that the landlord’s claim must be dismissed.

The landlord appealed the trial court ruling to the state supreme court, arguing that the language required under the trial court’s decision was outside the scope of the law. The high court disagreed with the plaintiff, noting that the statutory framework allowing for summary eviction proceedings was designed to make evictions more efficient, but that the procedural requirements of such an action are not optional and must be complied with strictly. Because the landlord did not include the required information in the initial eviction notice, his eviction was lawfully and correctly dismissed. As a result of this ruling, the landlord may still evict the defendants and is entitled to damages for lost rents and other contract violations. However, he will need to refile another claim that meets the statutory requirements.

Are You Dealing with a Rhode Island Eviction

If you are a Rhode Island property owner or landlord who has a tenant in violation of a lease agreement for nonpayment or another reason, you are well within your rights to demand compliance or initiate a claim and retake possession of the property. The procedural requirements for a Rhode Island summary eviction must be followed for an eviction claim to be valid. The help of a Rhode Island property law attorney who knows the requirements can make the process much smoother. The landlord/tenant attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo are experienced in handling all types of evictions and other related issues. You can rest assured that we’ll handle your claim in accordance with all legal requirements. Contact our offices at 401-300-4055 to schedule a consultation and meet with a Rhode Island attorney at Bilodeau Capalbo today.

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