Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Law gavel

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Information for Landlords


1) When is a tenant's rent late?
According to Rhode Island General Law, a tenant is not late until his rent payment has been due and in arrears for more than fifteen (15) days.

2) If my tenant is not paying, how quickly can I evict the tenant?
Once the fifteen (15) day period has elapsed, the eviction hearing in the District Court will occur a little more than two (2) weeks later.

3) What is the process of an Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent?
First, you must way until the rent payment has been due and in arrears for more than fifteen (15) days. Once this period has passed, then a 5-day letter must be mailed to the Tenant. If, after five days, then Tenant has not paid rent, then the Landlord can file a complaint with the District Court. The Clerk of the District Court will give set a hearing date, which will be nine (9) days after the eviction documents are filed. The Clerk will also stamp Summons, which are documents that notify the Tenant of the hearing date. The Summons must then be delivered by a Constable to the Tenants.

4) If I want to save money, should I attempt to handle the eviction myself?
If you handle an eviction without an attorney, also called pro se, you will eliminate attorney fees. The costs of the eviction, which are paid to the District Court and the Constable, will not be eliminated. Handling an eviction on your own is not without risk. The portion of the Rhode Island General Law that deals with evictions is called the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. It is a highly technical area of law. During the eviction process, you will have many opportunities to make mistakes that will be fatal to your eviction case. Many landlords have arrived at District Court for the eviction hearing to find that they have missed an important filing or deadline and have seen their case dismissed.

5) What are the costs associated with filing an Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent?
The filing fee that is paid to the District Court is $60.00. The service of process fee paid to the Constable is $45.00 per tenant.

6) If I am a Landlord/Owner and do not live in Rhode Island, is there any additional information I need to know?
Yes. The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires that a non-resident Landlord/Owner file certain documents with the City or Town and the Secretary of State that designates an agent within the State of Rhode Island. Landlord/Owner that fail to comply may be subject to a fine up to $500.00. Additionally, until the Landlord/Owner has complied, rent for the dwelling abates.

7) What documents are helpful to pursue an eviction?
In addition to the eviction documents, i.e., notices, summons, complaint, a Judge may require the Landlord/Owner to show proof of ownership. The easiest way to prove ownership is with a copy of the deed for the property. The attorney handling your case may request a copy of the document. Other documents that are helpful, but not necessary, are correspondence between the Landlord and Tenant, evidence of rent payments, any Notices previously mailed to the Tenant, the Lease, and the Rental Application.

8) If I am cited by a minimum housing code enforcement agency for a minimum housing code violation, am I required to take any action?
Yes. Within thirty days of receiving the notice of violation, you must notify any of your residential tenants for only the building that received the notice. You must also provide the tenant with a copy of the notice. A Landlord does not have to notify Tenants of violations if the Landlord is able to rectify the offending violation to the satisfaction of the agency within the thirty day period.

9) What is the Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act?
It is a law the probits discrimination "based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, country of ancestral origin, disability, age, familial status, or on the basis that a tenant or applicant, or a member of the household, is or has been, or is threatened with being, the victim of domestic abuse, or that the tenant or applicant has obtained, or sought, or is seeking, relief from any court in the form of a restraining order for protection from domestic abuse." RIGL 34-37-1.

10) If my Tenant moved out without notifying me, can I simply enter the apartment and begin renting it to another Tenant?
No. In order for an "abandonment" to occur, a Tenant must be late on some or all of the rent for at least fifteen (15) days and must have removed the Tenant's personal property from the apartment. If this has occurred, the Landlord must send a certified letter, return receipt requested, informing that Tenant that is no notification is received, the Landlord will rent the apartment to another Tenant. If, after mailing of the notice, the letter is returned to the Landlord undeliverable, or the Landlord does not hear from the Tenant during the seven (7) day period, then the Landlord may re-rent the apartment.

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Slepkow, Slepkow, & Associates has prepared the materials contained on this website for information purposes only. This information concerns Rhode Island law only and should not be construed as legal advice. No one should rely on any of the information or advice contained on this website without obtaining legal counsel. Slepkow, Slepkow, & Associates is not responsible for any material contained on those sites to which we have linked. The Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court license their respective lawyers in the general practice of law. These courts do not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.
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Joshua S. Slepkow, Esq.
Slepkow, Slepkow & Associates
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East Providence, RI 02915
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