What You Need To Know About Eviction in Rhode Island

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Depending on the reason cited for eviction in Rhode Island, your landlord must provide between five and 90 days' notice. In addition, landlords must follow the eviction process—which involves going through the court system—for a suit to be legally sound. 
No matter where you’re living, the pandemic has impacted everyone in some way. For some people, COVID-19 has made it difficult to make rent, and the risk of eviction is ever-present. With this concern, you should be aware of your state’s eviction laws so you can protect yourself. 
A super app that saves customers money on car and renters insurance, Jerry has put together this guide about eviction in Rhode Island. Here are the ways you can be evicted, a timeline for the eviction process, requirements landlords must follow, and more. 
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Rhode Island eviction 101: four ways you can be evicted

No matter where you live in the US, most states require landlords to provide written notice to their tenants if they plan on evicting them. For Rhode Island residents, you’re likely to receive anywhere from five to 90 days' written notice depending on the reason for eviction:
  • Failure to pay rent: A landlord cannot give you a notice of eviction until your rent payment is fifteen days late. Once the fifteen-day period is up and a tenant has still failed to pay their rent, a landlord can give a tenant a five-day Notice to Pay. If rent is not paid by the end of the notice period, a landlord may proceed with filing an eviction suit with the court. 
  • Violation of lease terms: Your landlord must provide you with a 20-day Notice to Comply if you’ve breached your lease terms (e.g., keeping a prohibited pet). You have the 20 days to resolve the issue. If the problem has not been resolved by the end of the notice period, the landlord can file for eviction. 
  • Foreclosure of the rental unit: Your landlord must have a reason to evict you and must provide at least thirty days’ notice before filing with the court. 
  • Conducting illegal activity in the rental property: Rhode Island law does not require landlords to provide any notice before they may file for eviction in this instance. Illegal activity may include using the rental unit to manufacture or sell illegal substances, murder, kidnapping, arson, and more.
Keep in mind that your landlord cannot evict you without a reason—but they may choose not to renew your lease. If you’re still inhabiting the property after your lease term ends, the landlord must give specific notice to move out depending on the type of rental agreement you have. 
  • Week-to-week: If you pay rent on a week-to-week basis, your landlord must give you a ten-day Notice to Quit before filing for eviction. 
  • Month-to-month: If you pay rent on a month-to-month basis, your landlord must give you a thirty-day Notice to Quit before filing for eviction. 
  • Year-to-year: If you pay rent on a year-to-year basis, your landlord must give you a ninety-day Notice to Quit before filing for eviction. 
No matter how much notice your landlord gives you, that period is usually a chance to fix the issue and avoid the eviction process altogether. If you cannot resolve the problem before then and your landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, you must vacate the premises
Key Takeaway Rhode Island landlords must provide tenants with anywhere from five to ninety days' notice before filing for eviction unless illegal activity is conducted on the property. 

A timeline of eviction in Rhode Island

Eviction can be a complicated and confusing process, especially if you aren’t aware of your rights. That’s why it's a good idea to get to know the typical timeline of an eviction in Rhode Island. Here’s how long it typically takes:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Written notice from landlord5-90 daysWhether you’ve failed to pay rent or you’ve violated a term of your lease, your landlord must provide written notice before filing for eviction. The only exception to this rule is if you have conducted some sort of illegal activity.
Court summonsAt least five days in advance of eviction hearing if for non-payment of rent. For other reasons, no specified requirementsYou must be notified of your court date, and your landlord or their attorney must serve you with a court summons.
Tenant response9-20 daysYou may provide any evidence relevant to your case at this stage. Be sure to file your answer before the hearing to give parties enough time to review all the evidence.
HearingFor non-payment of rent, a hearing is scheduled 9 days after the complaint is filed. For other reasons, there are no requirementsThe court will decide whether the tenant will need to leave the property. A tenant can appeal the decision five days after the judgment.
Writ of Execution is issued (i.e., eviction)Six days after ruling in landlord’s favorThis is a tenant’s final notice to leave the property or have their belongings forcibly removed from the unit.
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Evictions tend to vary in their timeline—mostly depending on how badly your landlord wants to move the process along. Be sure to make note of all the requirements your landlord must follow. If you know that your landlord has skipped a couple of required steps, the suit may be thrown out (and you won’t be evicted). 

How to resist eviction in Rhode Island

If you’re facing an eviction, you have a couple of ways to avoid the process altogether: 
  • Address the issue: Most of the time, evictions can be resolved without going to court, and many landlords will be glad they don’t have to go through the hassle. Fix the issue—remove prohibited pets, fix damage to the rental, etc.—and your landlord will likely not go through with the eviction. 
  • Procedural mistake: It’s crucial that your landlord follows the correct procedures when going through with an eviction. If your landlord is not following Rhode Island’s eviction process—maybe they’re changing the locks before receiving a judgment—you can bring this up in court to get the case dismissed.  
  • Prove that the landlord failed to maintain the property: Your landlord must provide you with adequate living conditions. If they’ve failed to repair an issue like water damage after you’ve brought it up repeatedly, you can avoid eviction. 
  • Discrimination: Housing discrimination is illegal in Rhode Island. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against on the basis of your race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or more, your case will likely be dismissed if you can provide adequate proof. 
Using the above defenses with adequate evidence will be able to stop an eviction in its tracks. If you decide to sue your landlord, you could even be compensated by the court. 

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