A Rhode Island eviction notice informs a tenant that they’ve violated the lease in some way. It tells them how long they have to correct the violation or vacate the property. All Rhode Island eviction notices must comply with the state’s landlord-tenant laws and with federal housing laws. Eviction notices are commonly called notices to quit.
Serving a Rhode Island eviction notice is the first action a landlord takes in the legal eviction process. The notice needs enough information to explain the problem to the tenant, what they need to do, and the deadline by which they need to act. The notice also acts as documentation for the landlord. Any time a landlord issues an eviction notice, they should keep a copy of it in the tenant’s file. This can be very helpful if the landlord must sue the tenant. It can also be helpful for the landlord to see any history that may impact whether the landlord wants to renew the lease with the tenant.
The components that should be included in an eviction notice are:
Eviction notices must be legally served on the tenant. Rhode Island law says that the notice must be sent via first-class mail. Landlords may find it helpful to create a Certificate of Service that documents the date the eviction notice was mailed, who it was mailed to, the address it was mailed to, the fact that it was mailed via first-class mail, and the signature of the person who mailed the notice.
5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 5-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is an eviction notice used when the tenant doesn’t pay their rent on time. Rhode Island law states that a landlord may not issue this notice until the tenant is at least 15 days behind on their rent. This eviction notice tells the tenant that they have 5 days to pay the rent or vacate the property. This document should give the tenant the full amount of past due rent, how it should be paid, and where it must be paid.
20-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
A 20-day notice to quit for non-compliance is an eviction notice that informs the tenant that they’ve violated the lease in some way. This notice is used for first-time violations according to § 34-18-36 and § 34-18-24. Second violations, though, also get a 20-day notice under § 34-18-36(e).
If it is a first-time notice, it should explain the violation in detail. If it is the second notice, it should also mention the date that the first notice was issued.
Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance for Seasonal Tenant
If a seasonal tenant violates their lease, a landlord is not required to give them a specific amount of notice to correct the violation or vacate the property. However, the eviction may only be issued if the tenant violates a municipal regulation or if they are non-compliant with the terms of their lease. Seasonal tenancies are defined as a temporary tenancy that starts as early as May 1 and runs no longer than October 15 or starting on September 1 and lasting no longer than June 1 of the following year according to § 34-18-36(f). This notice should explain how the reason it was issued.
Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity
There is no notice that is required for illegal activity according to § 34-18-24 and § 34-18-36(f). A notice to quit for illegal activity is also known as an immediate notice to quit. The tenant must be involved in certain illegal activities on the rental premises. Those activities can be found above by clicking the link for § 34-18-24. If a landlord opts to use this courtesy notice, they should detail why the notice was issued, including the activity that took place and the date or dates involved.
30-Day Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Lease Agreement
A notice to terminate a month-to-month lease agreement isn’t quit the same as an actual eviction notice. It can be created by either the tenant or the landlord. The purpose of this notice is to inform the recipient that the sender does not play to renew the month-to-month lease agreement and that the property will be vacated. This notice provides that the property should be vacated and returned to the care and custody of the landlord by the 30-day deadline mentioned.
Rhode Island eviction notices are the very first action that must be taken if the landlord would like to regain possession of the rental property if the tenant breaks the lease in some way. It’s important that the landlord choose the right eviction notice for the circumstances, give the proper information within the notice, and legally serve the notice. If the tenant does not comply with the notice by the end of the period, the landlord may then elect to sue the tenant in court.
Until the landlord files a lawsuit and is given an order from the court, they may not lock out the tenant, shut off the utilities to the property to force the tenant to leave, or remove the belongings of the tenant. Taking part in any of those actions without a court order is illegal.
Retaliatory eviction is also illegal. This means that the landlord is trying to evict the tenant because the tenant reported code violations or that the property was uninhabitable to the housing authorities. Landlords have a legal duty to keep the property up to code and in habitable condition.
It is also illegal for landlords to evict a tenant because of their actual or perceived skin color, race, religion, disability, family status, gender, or country of origin. Evicting for any of those factors would violate The Fair Housing Act.
If a landlord participates in illegal eviction, they could be sued by the tenant. The tenant may be granted financial compensation by the court. The landlord may also be subjected to expensive fines for breaking state or federal law.
Rhode Island tenants have rights. The Office of Housing and Community Development provides a free PDF that can help you understand your rights and your obligations. If you receive an eviction notice, make sure that you read the entire document. This will help you understand why the landlord is trying to evict you. Depending on whether you’re a seasonal tenant and the type of eviction notice used, you may be given a certain amount of time to correct the violation or leave the property. If you have questions about the eviction notice, you can call your landlord to ask for clarification.
Not all evictions are legal. Under Legal Considerations, we discussed the most common types of illegal eviction. If you believe that the eviction is illegal, you should talk to a landlord-tenant lawyer to determine whether you have a legal claim. You may have the option of suing the landlord for financial compensation. However, the only way to know for sure is to talk with a lawyer who practices in this area. You can also contact Rutgers School of Law, Rutgers University School of Law, or Seton Hall University School of Law. They may have a legal clinic that can help you access low-cost legal advice. You can also talk with legal aid. If you meet their income guidelines, you could be provided with free or affordable legal help. They may also have several helpful resources that you can use on your own.
Landlords have rights and legal obligations under Rhode Island law. It’s important that landlords choose and serve the right eviction notice for the situation. Landlords do not have to use eviction notices under certain circumstances. You can learn more about that by reading our section above on the components of an eviction notice. However, when an eviction notice is used, it must be legally served.
To sue the tenant, they must first refuse to comply with the eviction notice or you must have a situation where an eviction notice isn’t a legal requirement. Until you get a court order, you may not change the locks, disconnect the utilities, or remove the tenant’s property from the rental unit. That is illegal.
You also may not evict the tenant because of one of the characteristics listed as protected under The Fair Housing Act. You may not evict the tenant because they report you or the property to the housing authorities for code violations or because the property is uninhabitable.
There are serious consequences for breaking housing law. You could be sued by the tenant. You could be ordered to pay the tenant for their troubles and you could also be fined by the court. To protect yourself as a landlord, make sure that you make an appointment to talk with a qualified and experienced landlord-tenant attorney.