Eviction Laws in Rhode Island: What to do if you get an eviction notice

on 12/08/2015 - 02:20 pm

Evictions never happen like they do in the movies or on TV. Evictions are not easy for landlords or for tenants. They are often used as a last resort when the parties simply cannot come to terms. It is important for tenants to know their rights when it comes to eviction laws.

Constructive Eviction
As exasperated as a landlord may be, it is not legal for a landlord to take matters into their own hands. A landlord cannot remove a tenant’s belongings or deny access to their unit or home. This is called constructive eviction and if attempted, a landlord may be liable to the tenant for damages or rent.

Instead, landlords must follow a very specific chain of action to legally evict a tenant. There are two reasons a tenant may be evicted; failure to pay rent and lease violations. Before a landlord can legally evict a tenant they must serve the tenant a notice that informs them they are 15 days or more late on their payment. The landlord can go to court to begin the eviction process when a rent payment is not received up to 5 days after the notice was delivered or mailed.

For a lease violation, landlords can serve a 20 day notice to tenants. Tenants have 20 days to remedy the situation. Lease violations can include creating an unpleasant or unsafe environment for other tenants, acts of criminal violence, presence of controlled substances and damaging property. Tenants have 20 days to remedy the situation before a landlord can go to court to begin the eviction process.

Going to Court
If you get a notice, the easiest thing to do is comply. A landlord will not be able to evict you if you remedy the situation. If you receive a summons to court, but did not receive a 5-day or 20-day notice or you feel you are not in violation of the lease, you may go to court to prove that the eviction is not legal.

According to Landlord Guidance, should the landlord win in court they will be issued a Writ of Restitution. You will be given a certain amount of time to vacate the premise, after which law enforcement may be asked forcibly to remove you from the rental property.

Find a Lawyer
When you feel you have been wrongfully evicted, you are being discriminated against or the landlord did not follow the proper procedures you can get help. Find a lawyer that specializes in tenant rights to help you so that you don’t incur unnecessary costs or lose your home. 

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