Rhode Island eviction notices give a tenant notice that they will be evicted unless they pay their overdue rent, cure lease violations, or move out within a specific time frame. The number of days that the tenant is given to comply will vary depending on the landlord’s justification for terminating the lease and range from five (5) to thirty (30) days. Tenants who didn’t pay their rent or committed a lease violation are usually permitted to maintain their tenancy if they pay the landlord or fix their violation within the given notice period. In the event that the tenant does not move out or remedy their non-compliance (or non-payment) before the eviction notice expires, the landlord will have the right to file an election lawsuit for their removal.
5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment – Gives a tenant five (5) days to pay their overdue rent or quit the premises. Can only be delivered to a tenant fifteen (15) days after rent is due.
20-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance – Informs a tenant that they have twenty (20) days to cure a lease violation or move out. No opportunity to cure is required for second violations.
30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Tenancy – Cancels a month-to-month rental agreement with thirty (30) days’ notice.
Immediate Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity – Used when a tenant has engaged in illegal activity on the landlord’s property. Informs the tenant that their lease is terminated and they must move out or face legal action.
- Grace Period (§ 34-18-35(a)): Fifteen (15) Days
- Non-Payment of Rent (§ 34-18-35(a)): Five (5) Days
- Lease Non-Compliance (§ 34-18-36(a)): Twenty (20) Days
- Periodic Tenancy Termination (§ 34-18-37(b)): Thirty (30) Days
- Illegal Activity (§ 34-18-24(8), (9), & (10) and 34-18-36(f)): No notice required.
In Rhode Island, it is illegal for landlords to perform “self-help” evictions whereby they endeavor to force a tenant to move out by turning off utilities or changing the locks. Furthermore, the landlord is required, in most cases, to give their tenant written notice (a “notice to quit”) a number of days before the tenant’s lease is canceled. The only case in which a landlord can file an eviction action without giving any notice is if the tenant commits an illegal act on the property.
Step 1 – Download and Complete Notice to Quit
Before a landlord can have a tenant formally evicted, they must give them proper notice written in accordance with § 34-18-56 which sets forth the general form that eviction documents must follow. Landlords can accomplish this by downloading, filling out, and delivering one of the documents provided below to the tenant.
- 5-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment
- 20-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
- 30-Day Notice to Terminate Month-to-Month Tenancy
- Immediate Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity
Step 2 – Serve Notice to Quit
Once the notice has been completed, the landlord must make at least one copy before sending the original to the tenant by First Class mail. The landlord will need to fill out the bottom portion of their copy in which they confirm that the mailing was completed.
Step 3 – File Complaint for Eviction
The tenant must comply with the notice by moving out or remedying their breach of the lease agreement within the notice period. If the tenant fails to comply, the landlord can begin legal action when the notice expires. To file an eviction lawsuit, the landlord will need to file a Complaint for Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent or Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other than Non-Payment of Rent with the District Court that is associated with the property’s location. The court will charge the landlord a fee when the Complaint is filed.
Step 4 – Serve Summons, Complaint, and Answer Forms
After the Complaint is filed, the court will set a hearing date for the case and issue a Summons. At this juncture, the landlord will need to send the Summons, Complaint, and Answer forms by First Class mail to the tenant. If the tenant wishes to contest the landlord’s Complaint, they can fill out the Answer form and file it with the court.
Step 5 – Attend Hearing
At the hearing, a judge will hear the landlord and the tenant present their case and any accompanying evidence that supports the truth of their argument (expired notices, photographic evidence, bank statements, communication records, etc.). Both parties must appear in court at the appointed time to avoid a default ruling against them. The judge will consider the evidence before making their decision. If they decide in favor of the tenant, their lease will not be terminated and they can continue their tenancy. If the landlord prevails, a date will be set by which the tenant must move out.
Step 6 – Writ of Restitution
In the event that a tenant does not vacate the landlord’s property after being ordered by the court to do so, the landlord may obtain a Writ of Restitution from the court which must be forwarded to the sheriff’s office. After receiving a Writ, a sheriff or deputy will be dispatched to physically remove the tenant from the premises.
- Complaint for Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent (DC-54)
- Signing: Plaintiff/Plaintiff’s Attorney
- Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other than Non-Payment of Rent (DC-38)
- Signing: Plaintiff/Plaintiff’s Attorney
- Answer Defendant/Tenant (DC-53)
- Signing: Defendant/Defendant’s Attorney and Server