Landlord Tenant – Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act – Rhode Island
Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Residential Landlord and Tenant Act”. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-1
Purposes – Rules of construction.
(a) This chapter shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes and policies.
(b) Underlying purposes and policies of this chapter are to:
(1) Simplify, clarify, modernize and revise the law governing the rental of dwelling units and the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants;
(2) Encourage landlords and tenants to maintain and improve the quality and availability of housing;
(3) Make more uniform the law relating to residential landlord and tenant relations in those respects in which this chapter follows the “Uniform Residential Landlord – Tenant Act”. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-2
Supplementary principles of law applicable.
(a) Unless displaced by the provisions of this chapter, the principles of law and equity, including the law relating to capacity to contract, mutuality of obligations, principal and agent, real property, public health, safety, and fire prevention, estoppel, fraud, misrepresentation, duress, coercion, mistake, bankruptcy, or other validating or invalidating cause supplements its provisions.
(b) This chapter shall apply to any rental agreement involving public housing or any type of federally subsidized or regulated housing except where:
(1) A particular subject matter has been pre-empted by federal law, or;
(2) A landlord or tenant has any rights or responsibilities derived from federal law or regulations which directly conflict with the provisions of this chapter, in which case the rights and responsibilities derived from federal laws and regulations shall control. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-3
Construction against implicit repeal.
This chapter being a general act intended as a unified coverage of its subject matter, no part of it is to be construed as impliedly repealed by subsequent legislation if that construction can reasonably be avoided. In the event of a conflict between the provisions of this chapter and the provisions of chapters 18.1, 19, or 20 of this title, the provisions of this chapter shall control. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-4
Administration of remedies – Enforcement.
(a) The remedies provided by this chapter shall be so administered that an aggrieved party may recover appropriate damages and injunctive relief, including temporary restraining orders, as set forth in § 34-18-6. The aggrieved party has a duty to mitigate damages.
(b) Any right or obligation declared by this chapter is enforceable by action unless the provision declaring it specifies a different and limited effect. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-5
Temporary restraining orders – Ex parte proceedings.
(a) No temporary restraining order shall be granted without notice to the adverse party unless it clearly appears from specific facts shown by affidavit or by the verified complaint that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the applicant before notice can be served and a hearing had thereon. Every temporary restraining order granted without notice shall be endorsed with the date and hour of issuance; shall be filed forthwith in the clerk’s office and entered of record; and shall expire by its terms within such time after entry, not to exceed ten (10) days, as the court fixes, unless within the time so fixed, the order by consent or for good cause shown and after hearing of argument by the parties or counsel, is extended for an additional period. In case a temporary order is granted without notice, the motion for a preliminary injunction shall be set down for hearing at the earliest possible time and shall be given precedence over all matters except older matters of the same character; and when the motion comes on for hearing, the party who obtained the temporary restraining order shall proceed with the application for a preliminary injunction, and, if he or she does not do so, the court shall dissolve the temporary restraining order.
(b) On two (2) days’ notice to the party who obtained the temporary restraining order without notice, or on such shorter notice to that party as the court may prescribe, the adverse party may appear and move its dissolution or modification, and in that event the court shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require.
(c) Every order granting an injunction and every restraining order shall be specific in terms; shall describe in reasonable detail the act or acts sought to be restrained; and is binding only upon the parties to the action, their officers, agents, managers, employees, and attorneys, and upon those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the order by personal service or otherwise. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-6
This chapter applies to, regulates and determines rights, obligations, and remedies under a rental agreement, wherever made, for a dwelling unit located within this state. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-7
Exclusions from application of chapter.
Unless created to avoid the application of this chapter, the following arrangements are not governed by this chapter:
(1) Residence at an institution, public or private, if incidental to detention or the provision of medical, geriatric, educational, counseling, religious, or similar service;
(2) Occupancy under a contract of sale of a dwelling unit or the property of which it is a part, if the occupant is the purchaser or a person who succeeds to his or her interest;
(3) Occupancy by a member of a fraternal or social organization in the portion of a structure operated for the benefit of the organization;
(4) Transient occupancy in a hotel, motel, or other lodging as defined under § 44-18-7(11), which is subject to the state sales and use tax, or lodgings tax as allowed by state enabling legislation;
(5) Occupancy by a paid employee of a landlord, whose right to occupancy is conditional upon employment substantially for services, maintenance, or repair of premises containing more than eleven (11) units;
(6) Occupancy by a holder of a proprietary lease in a cooperative;
(7) Commercial letting and any other estate governed by chapter 18.1 of this title;
(8) Residence at a transitional housing facility. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-8
The district or appropriate housing court of this state shall exercise jurisdiction in both law and equity over any landlord or tenant with respect to any conduct in this state governed by this chapter or with respect to any claim arising from a transaction subject to this chapter. In addition to any other method provided by rule or by statute, personal jurisdiction over a landlord or tenant may be acquired in a civil action or proceeding commenced in the court by the service of process in the manner provided by § 34-18-10(c). Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-9
Service of process for actions pursuant to chapter.
(a) In actions for nonpayment of rent, the summons for eviction for nonpayment of rent shall be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(g). At the time of filing of the complaint, the clerk shall mark the date of hearing upon the summons, which shall be the ninth (9th) day after filing of the complaint, or the first court day following the ninth (9th) day. For the purposes of this section only, the time of filing of the complaint shall be the date upon which the clerk assigns a case number to the action and the filing fee is paid to the clerk. On the same day that the complaint is filed, the plaintiff ‘s attorney or, if pro se, the plaintiff, or if more than one, the person filing the complaint shall mail a copy of the summons and complaint and a blank answer form as provided in § 34-18-56(j) by first class mail, to the defendant, shall complete the proof of service on a copy of the original summons and file the completed proof of service in the appropriate court. The clerk shall note on the docket the mailing date of the summons and complaint, and shall complete the proof of service on the original summons. The plaintiff shall deliver the original summons and a copy thereof, together with a copy of the complaint and a blank answer form to the sheriff or any constable of the county in which the appropriate court is located. The officer receiving the copies shall serve them by:
(i) Handing them to the defendant; or
(ii) Serving them at the defendant’s dwelling unit to a person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein; or
(iii) If none be found, by posting them conspicuously on the door to defendant’s dwelling unit.
(2) The sheriff or constable serving the summons and complaint shall make proof of service on the original summons and shall file it with the clerk of the appropriate court at or before the time of the hearing. The proof of service shall show the manner and the day, hour, and place of service, and shall show that the defendant was served no less than five (5) days before the hearing.
(b) In all actions pursuant to this chapter other than for nonpayment of rent, the procedure shall be as follows:
(1) The summons for eviction actions pursuant to §§ 34-18-36 and 34-18-38 shall be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(h). A blank answer, in the form provided in § 34-18-56(j) shall be served together with this summons.
(2) The summons in all other actions pursuant to this chapter shall be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(i). Service shall be made pursuant to Rule 4 of the district court civil rules, or other appropriate rule of court.
(c) If a landlord or tenant is not a resident of this state or is a corporation not authorized to do business in this state and engages in any conduct in this state governed by this chapter, or engages in a transaction subject to this chapter, he or she may designate an agent upon whom service of process may be made in this state. The agent shall be a resident of this state or a corporation authorized to do business in this state. The designation shall be in writing and filed with the secretary of state. If no designation is made and filed or if the process cannot be served in this state upon the designated agent, process may be served upon the secretary of state, but service upon the secretary of state is not effective unless the plaintiff or petitioner forthwith mails a copy of the process and pleading by registered or certified mail to the defendant or respondent at his or her last reasonably ascertainable address. An affidavit of compliance with this subsection shall be filed with the clerk of the court on or before the return day of the process, if any, or within any further time the court allows.
(d) If at time of hearing it appears that the clerk failed to provide mail service as required by subsection (a), or that the mailed service was undeliverable, service shall nevertheless be deemed complete if proof of service reflects that service was accomplished in accordance with subsection (a)(1) (i) or (ii) of this section. If mailed service was defective and the tenant was prejudiced by shorter notice of the hearing, the tenant may seek the benefits of § 34-18-35(d) for late filing of discovery, if justice requires. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-10
Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent sections of this chapter which apply to specific sections thereof, and unless the context otherwise requires, in this chapter:
(1) “Abandonment” means the tenant has vacated the premises without notice to the landlord and has no intention of returning, as evidenced by nonpayment of rent for more than fifteen (15) days and removal of substantially all possessions from the premises;
(2) “Action” includes recoupment, counterclaim, set-off, suit in equity, and any other proceeding in which rights are determined, including an action for possession;
(3) “Building and housing codes” include any law, ordinance, or governmental regulation concerning fitness for habitation, or the construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use, or appearance of any premises of dwelling unit;
(4) “Dwelling unit” means a structure or part of a structure that is designed or intended to be used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one or more persons;
(5) “Fair rental value” means rent which is of comparable value with that of other rental properties of similar size and condition within the contiguous neighborhood;
(6) “Good faith” means honesty in fact in the conduct of the transaction concerned;
(7) “Landlord” means the owner, lessor, or sublessor of the dwelling unit or the building of which it is a part, and it also means a manager of the premises who fails to disclose as required by § 34-18-20;
(8) “Ordinary wear and tear” means deterioration of the premises which is the result of the tenant’s normal nonabusive living and includes, but is not limited to, deterioration caused by the landlord’s failure to prepare for expected conditions or by the landlord’s failure to comply with his or her obligations;
(9) “Organization” includes a corporation, government, governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership of association, two (2) or more persons having a joint or common interest, and any other legal or commercial entity;
(10) “Owner” shall mean any person who, alone or jointly or severally with others:
(i) Has legal title or tax title (pursuant to §§ 44-9-40 – 44-9-46, inclusive, of the general laws) to any dwelling, dwelling unit or structure with or without accompanying actual possession thereof; or
(ii) Has charge, care, or control of any dwelling, dwelling unit or structure as owner or agent of the owner, or an executor, administrator, trustee, or guardian of the estate of the owner. Any person representing the actual owner in this way shall be bound to comply with the provisions of this chapter and of rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto to the same extent as if he or she were the owner.
(11) “Person” includes an individual or organization;
(12) “Premises” means a dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part and facilities and appurtenances therein and grounds, areas, and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally, or the use of which is promised to the tenant;
(13) “Rent” means the payment or consideration that a tenant pays to a landlord for the use of the premises, whether money, services, property, or produce of the land;
(14) “Rental agreement” means all agreements, written or oral, and valid rules and regulations adopted under § 34-18-25 embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises, and also includes any terms required by law;
(15) “Roomer” means a tenant occupying a dwelling unit which consists of any room or group of rooms forming a single habitable unit used or intended to be used for living and sleeping, but not for cooking or eating purposes;
(16) “Security deposit” means a sum of money given by a tenant to a landlord at the outset of the tenancy or shortly thereafter, as a deposit against physical damages to the tenant’s dwelling unit during said tenancy;
(17) “Tenant” means a person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a dwelling unit to the exclusion of others;
(18) “Transitional housing facility” means a facility which, for a period not to exceed two (2)years, provides its residents with appropriate social services for the purpose of fostering independence, self sufficiency, and eventual transition to a permanent living arrangement;
(19) “Willful” means that the act was performed intentionally, knowingly and purposely, not accidentally or inadvertently and without justifiable excuse. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-11
Obligation of good faith.
Every duty under this chapter and every act which must be performed as a condition precedent to the exercise of a right or remedy under this chapter imposes an obligation of good faith in its performance or enforcement. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-12
(a) If the court, as a matter of law, finds:
(1) A rental agreement or any provision thereof was unconscionable when made, the court may refuse to enforce the agreement, enforce the remainder of the agreement without the unconscionable provision, or limit the application of any unconscionable provision to avoid an unconscionable result; or
(2) A settlement in which a party waives or agrees to forego a claim or right under this chapter or under a rental agreement was unconscionable when made, the court may refuse to enforce the settlement, enforce the remainder of the settlement without the unconscionable provisions, or limit the application of any unconscionable provision to avoid an unconscionable result.
(b) If unconscionability is put into issue by a party or by the court upon its own motion, the parties shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present evidence as to the setting, purpose and effect of the rental agreement or settlement to aid the court in making the determination. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-13
(a) A person has notice of a fact if:
(i) He or she has actual knowledge of it;
(ii) He or she has received a notice or notification of it; or
(iii) From all the facts and circumstances known to him or her at the time in question he or she has reason to know that it exists.
(2) A person “knows” or “has knowledge” of a fact if he or she has actual knowledge of it.
(b) A person “notifies” or “gives” a notice or notification to another person by taking steps reasonably calculated to inform the other in ordinary course whether or not the other actually comes to know of it. A person “receives” a notice or notification when:
(1) It comes to his or her attention; or
(2) It is delivered in hand or sent by first class mail to him or her at a place held out by him or her as the place for receipt of the communication, or in the absence of such designation, to his or her last known place of residence.
(c) “Notice,” knowledge or a notice or notification received by an organization, is effective for a particular transaction from the time it is brought to the attention of the individual conducting that transaction, and in any event from the time it would have been brought to his or her attention if the organization had exercised reasonable diligence. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-14
Terms and conditions of rental agreement.
(a) A landlord and a tenant may include in a rental agreement terms and conditions not prohibited by this chapter or other rule of law, including rent, term of the agreement, and other provisions governing the rights and obligations of the parties.
(b) In absence of agreement, the tenant shall pay as rent the fair rental value for the use and occupancy of the dwelling unit.
(c) Rent is payable without demand or notice at the time and place agreed upon by the parties. Unless otherwise agreed, rent is payable at the dwelling unit and periodic rent is payable at the beginning of any term of one month or less and otherwise in equal monthly installments at the beginning of each month. Unless otherwise agreed, rent is uniformly apportionable from day-to-day.
(d) Unless the rental agreement fixes a definite term, the tenancy is week-to-week in case of a roomer who pays weekly rent, and in all other cases month to month.
(e) A tenant who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older or who will turn sixty-five (65) during the term of a rental agreement for a dwelling unit may terminate such a rental agreement in order to enter a residential care and assisted living facility, as defined in § 23-17.4-2, a nursing facility, or a unit in a private or public housing complex designated by the federal government as housing for the elderly. The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by notice given in writing to the usual person to whom rental payments are made. The notice shall be accompanied by documentation of admission or pending admission to a facility or housing complex described in this section. Termination of the rental agreement shall be effective no earlier than forty-five (45) days after the first rental payment due date following delivery of written notice of termination. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-15
Effect of unsigned or undelivered rental agreement.
(a) If the landlord does not sign and deliver a written rental agreement signed and delivered to him or her by the tenant, acceptance of rent without reservation by the landlord gives the rental agreement the same effect as if it had been signed and delivered by the landlord.
(b) If the tenant does not sign and deliver a written rental agreement signed and delivered to him or her by the landlord, acceptance of possession and payment of rent without reservation gives the rental agreement the same effect as if it had been signed and delivered by the tenant.
(c) If a rental agreement given effect by the operation of this section provides for a term longer than one year, it is effective for only one year. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-16
Rent increases – Thirty (30) day notice.
Prior to an increase in rent being imposed by a landlord for a residential tenancy, notice of the increase shall be given in writing to any tenant by a landlord at least thirty (30) days prior to the effective date of the increase. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-16.1
Prohibited provisions in rental agreements.
(a) A rental agreement may not provide that the tenant:
(1) Agrees to waive or forego rights or remedies under this chapter;
(2) Authorizes any person to confess judgement on a claim arising out of the rental agreement;
(3) Agrees to pay the landlord’s attorney’s fees inconsistent with this chapter; or
(4) Agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord arising under law or to indemnify the landlord for that liability or the costs connected with the liability.
(b) A provision prohibited by subsection (a) included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. If a landlord deliberately uses a rental agreement containing provisions known to be prohibited, the tenant may recover, in addition to his or her actual damages, an amount up to three (3) months periodic rent and reasonable attorney’s fees. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-17
Receipt of rent free of maintenance obligations forbidden.
A rental agreement, assignment, conveyance, trust deed, or security instrument may not permit the receipt of rent free of the obligation to comply with § 34-18-22(a). Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-18
(a) A landlord may not demand or receive a security deposit, however denominated, in an amount or value in excess of one month’s periodic rent.
(b) Upon termination of the tenancy, the amount of security deposit due to the tenant shall be the entire amount given by the tenant as a security deposit, minus any amount of unpaid accrued rent and the amount of physical damages to the premises, other than ordinary wear and tear, which the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with § 34-18-24, all as itemized by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant. The landlord shall deliver the notice, together with the amount of the security deposit due to the tenant, within twenty (20) days after the later of either termination of the tenancy, delivery of possession, or the tenant’s providing the landlord with a forwarding address for the purpose of receiving the security deposit.
(c) If the landlord fails to comply with subsection (b), the tenant may recover the amount due him or her, together with damages in an amount equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorney fees.
(d) This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from recovering other damages to which he or she may be entitled under this chapter.
(e) In the event the landlord transfers his or her interest in the premises, the holder of the landlord’s interest in the premises at the time of the termination of the tenancy is bound by this section.
(f) No rental agreement shall contain any waiver of the provisions of this section. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-19
(a) A landlord or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on his or her behalf shall disclose to the tenant in writing, at or before the commencement of the tenancy, the name, address and number of:
(1) The person authorized to manage the premises; and
(2) An owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands.
(b) The information required to be furnished by this section shall be kept current. This section extends to and is enforceable against any successor landlord, owner, or manager.
(c) A person who fails to comply with subsection (a) of this section becomes an agent of each person who is a landlord for:
(1) Service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands; and
(2) Performing the obligations of the landlord under this chapter and under the rental agreement and expending or making available for the purpose of all rent collected from the premises. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-20
Landlord to deliver possession of dwelling unit.
At the commencement of the term a landlord shall deliver possession of the premises to the tenant in compliance with the rental agreement and § 34-18-22. The landlord may bring an action for possession against any person wrongfully in possession and may recover the damages provided in § 34-18-38(c). Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-21
Landlord to maintain premises.
(a) A landlord shall:
(1) Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes affecting health and safety;
(2) Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
(3) Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
(4) Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him or her;
(5) Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit as required by § 45-24.3-6, or applicable local codes if more restrictive, and arrange for their removal; and
(6) Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times as required by § 45-24.3-7, or applicable local codes if more restrictive, and reasonable heat as required by § 45-24.3-9, or applicable local codes if more restrictive, between October 1 and May 1, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
(b) If the duty imposed by subsection (a)(1) of this section is greater than any duty imposed by any other paragraph of that subsection, the landlord’s duty shall be determined by reference to subsection (a)(1) of this section.
(c) The landlord and tenant of a dwelling unit may agree in writing that the tenant perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations and remodeling but only if:
(1) The agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and set forth in a writing signed by the parties and supported by adequate consideration;
(2) The work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with subsection (a)(1) of this section; and
(3) The agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-22
Landlord’s duty to notify tenant of violation.
(a) A landlord, when cited by a state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency for a housing code violation, shall, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice, deliver a copy of the notice of violation to each residential tenant of the building affected by said violation, unless within said thirty (30) day period the landlord has corrected all violations set forth in the notice of violation to the satisfaction of the state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency which issued the notice of violation.
(b) A landlord, prior to entering into any residential rental agreement, shall inform a prospective tenant of any outstanding minimum housing code violations which exist on the building that is the subject of the rental agreement. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-22.1
Landlord’s duty regarding compliance with zoning and minimum housing laws.
Whenever any landlord, either by his or her own labor or through the use of others acting on his or her behalf, undertakes physical alterations to an existing building which alterations create a residential apartment or apartments, and the landlord knew or should have known that the alterations would result in the construction of an apartment or apartments which violate the applicable state and/or local zoning laws and/or state or local minimum housing codes, the landlord shall be responsible to pay the moving costs of any tenants required to move from any of the apartments because of the nonconformity of the apartments with the law; provided, however, that the landlord will be required to pay such moving costs only to a place within the same city or town where the property in violation of the law is located. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-22.2
Nonresident landlord to designate agent for service of process.
A landlord who is not a resident of this state shall designate and continuously maintain an agent upon whom service may be made of any process, notice, or demand required or permitted by law to be served, including but not limited to notices of minimum housing code violations. The agent shall be a resident of this state or a corporation authorized to do business in this state. The landlord’s designation shall be in writing, shall include the name and address of the agent, shall include the street address of each property designated to said agent, and shall be filed with the secretary of state and with the clerk of the city or town wherein the dwelling unit is located. If a landlord fails to comply with the requirements of this section, rent for the dwelling unit abates until designation of an agent is made and the landlord shall be subject to a fine of up to five hundred ($500) dollars per violation, payable to the municipality. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-22.3
Limitation of liability upon sale or change of management.
(a) A landlord who conveys premises that include a dwelling unit subject to a rental agreement in a good faith sale to a bona fide purchaser is relieved of liability under the rental agreement and this chapter as to events occurring after written notice to the tenant of the conveyance. In no event may the relief from liability predate the conveyance itself.
(2) Written notice, for purposes of this section, must include the name(s), address, and telephone number of the person or persons purchasing the property and assuming liability. To be effective, the written notice must also certify compliance with § 45-24.3-17 which prohibits sale or lease of property until any outstanding housing code violations have been corrected or the seller or lessor has provided to the buyer or lessee, as well as to the enforcing officer, all notices regarding violations, as required by the statute.
(b) A manager of premises that include a dwelling unit is relieved of liability under the rental agreement and this chapter as to events occurring after written notice to the tenant of the termination of his or her management. The written notice must include the name(s), address, and telephone number of the person or persons assuming management and/or the person or persons within the state exercising ownership or responsibility over the property.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the tenant’s rights and duties under an existing rental agreement, and the purchaser of property takes title subject to the same rights and responsibilities toward the tenant which the seller had. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-23
Tenant to maintain dwelling unit.
A tenant shall:
(1) Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
(2) Keep that part of the premises that he or she occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
(3) Dispose from his or her dwelling unit all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
(4) Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
(5) Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises;
(6) Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so;
(7) Conduct himself or herself, and require other persons on the premises with his or her consentto conduct themselves, in a manner that will not disturb his or her neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises;
(8) Refrain from using any part of the premises in a manner such as would constitute the maintaining of a narcotics nuisance under the provisions of § 21-28-4.06;
(9) Refrain from using any part of the premises or any public property adjacent thereto for the manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance or from possessing on the premises or any public property adjacent thereto with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance classified in schedule I or schedule II of chapter 28 of title 21; and
(10) Refrain from any crime of violence on the premises or on any public property adjacent to said premises. A “crime of violence” means and includes any of the following crimes or an attempt to commit any of the following crimes; murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, sexual assault, mayhem, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault or battery involving grave bodily injury, and a felony assault with intent to commit any offense. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-24
Rules and regulations.
(a) A landlord, from time to time, may adopt a rule or regulation, however described, concerning the tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises. It is enforceable against the tenant only if:
(1) Its purpose is to promote the convenience, safety, or welfare of the tenants on the premises, preserve the landlord’s property from abusive use, or make a fair distribution of services and facilities held out for the tenants generally;
(2) It is reasonably related to the purpose of which it is adopted;
(3) It is sufficiently explicit in its prohibition, direction, or limitation of the tenant’s conduct to fairly inform the tenant of what he or she must or must not do to comply;
(4) It applies to all tenants in the premises in a fair manner;
(5) It is not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord; and
(6) The tenant has notice of it at the time he or she enters into the rental agreement, or when it is adopted.
(b) If a rule or regulation is adopted after the tenant enters into the rental agreement that works a substantial modification of his or her bargain, it is not valid unless the tenant consents to it in writing. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-25
(a) A tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.
(b) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit without consent of the tenant in case of emergency, or, during any absence of the tenant in excess of seven (7) days, if reasonably necessary for the protection of the property.
(c) A landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant. Except in case of emergency or unless it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two (2)days’ notice of his or her intent to enter and may enter only at reasonable times.
(d) A landlord has no other right of access except:
(1) Pursuant to court order;
(2) As permitted by § 34-18-39; or
(3) Unless the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-26
Tenant to use and occupy.
Unless otherwise agreed, a tenant shall occupy his or her dwelling unit only as a dwelling unit. The rental agreement may require that the tenant notify the landlord of any anticipated extended absence from the premises in excess of ten (10) days no later than the first day of the extended absence. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-27
Noncompliance by the landlord in general.
(a) Except as provided by this chapter, if there is a noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with § 34-18-22 materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in twenty (20) days, and the rental agreement shall terminate as provided in the notice subject to the following:
(1) If the breach is remediable by repairs, the payment of damages or otherwise and the landlord adequately remedies the breach before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate by reason of the breach.
(2) If substantially the same act or omission which constituted a prior noncompliance of which notice was given recurs within six (6) months, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement upon at least fourteen (14) days’ written notice specifying the breach and the date of termination of the rental agreement.(3) The tenant may not terminate for a condition caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his or her family, or other person on the premises with his or her consent.
(b) Except as provided in this chapter, the tenant may recover actual damages and obtain injunctive relief for noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or § 34-18-22. If the landlord’s noncompliance is willful, the tenant may recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
(c) The remedy provided in subsection (b) of this section is in addition to any right of the tenant arising under subsection (a).
(d) If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord shall return all security recoverable by the tenant under § 34-18-19 and all prepaid rent. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-28
Failure to deliver possession.
(a) If the landlord fails to deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the tenant as provided in § 34-18-21, rent abates until possession is delivered and the tenant may:
(1) Terminate the rental agreement upon at least five (5) days’ written notice to the landlord, and, upon termination, the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security; or
(2) Demand performance of the rental agreement by the landlord and, if the tenant elects, bring action for possession of the dwelling unit against the landlord.
(b) If a person’s failure to deliver possession is willful and not in good faith, an aggrieved person may recover from that person an amount not more than three (3) months’ periodic rent or threefold the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-29
Self-help for limited repairs.
(a) If the landlord fails to comply with subsection of § 34-18-22(a)(1), (2), (4), (5), or (6), and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125), the tenant may cause repairs to be done in a skilled manner, in compliance with applicable state and local codes, and deduct from his or her rent the actual and reasonable cost or the fair and reasonable value of the repairs if:
(1) The tenant notifies the landlord of his or her intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense; and
(2) The landlord fails to comply within twenty (20) days, or fails to demonstrate ongoing, good faith efforts to comply, after being notified by the tenant in writing; or, in the case of emergency, the landlord either cannot be reached by the tenant, or the landlord fails to comply as promptly as conditions require; and
(3) The tenant submits an itemized statement to the landlord of the cost or the fair and reasonable value of the repairs made.
(b) A tenant may not repair at the landlord’s expense if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his or her family, or other person on the premises with his or her consent. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-30
Wrongful failure to supply heat, water, hot water, or essential services.
(a) If, contrary to the rental agreement or § 34-18-22, the landlord willfully or negligently fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service, the tenant may give reasonable notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may:
(1) Take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure reasonable amounts of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, and other essential service during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable costs from the periodic rent; or
(2) Recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or
(3) Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance.
(b) In addition to the remedy provided in subsection (a)(3) of this section, the tenant may recover the actual and reasonable cost or fair and reasonable value of the substitute housing not in excess of an amount equal to the periodic rent, and in any case under subsection (a) of this section, may recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
(c) If the tenant proceeds under this section, he or she may not proceed under § 34-18-28 or § 34-18-30 as to that breach.
(d) Rights of the tenant under this section do not arise until he or she has given notice to the landlord, nor does this section apply if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of his or her family, or other person on the premises with his or her consent. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-31
Landlord’s noncompliance as defense to action for possession or rent.
(a) In an action for possession based upon nonpayment of rent or in an action for rent when the tenant is in possession, the tenant may counterclaim for any amount he or she may recover under the rental agreement or this chapter. In that event, the court, from time to time, may order the tenant to pay into court all or part of the rent accrued and thereafter accruing, and shall determine the amount due to each party. The party to whom a net amount is owed shall be paid first from the money paid into court, and the balance by the other party. If no rent remains due after application of this section, judgment shall be entered for the tenant in the action for possession. If the defense or counterclaim by the tenant is frivolous or without any basis in fact, the landlord may recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
(b) In an action for rent when the tenant is not in possession, he or she may counterclaim as provided in subsection (a) of this section, but is not required to pay any rent into court. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-32
Fire or casualty damage.
(a) If the dwelling unit or premises are damaged or destroyed by fire or casualty to an extent that enjoyment of the dwelling unit is substantially impaired, the tenant may:
(1) Immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing within fourteen (14) days thereafter of his or her intention to terminate the rental agreement, in which case the rental agreement terminates as of the date of vacating; or
(2) If continued occupancy is lawful, vacate any part of the dwelling unit rendered unusable by the fire or casualty, in which case the tenants’ liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.
(b) If the rental agreement is terminated the landlord shall return all security recoverable under § 34-18-19 and all prepaid rent. Accounting for rent in the event of termination or apportionment shall be made as of the date of the fire or casualty.
(c) This section shall not be construed to limit the right of the landlord to recover in an action in tort damages resulting from a fire or other casualty damage caused either negligently or deliberately by the tenant. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-33
Tenant’s remedies for landlord’s unlawful ouster, exclusion, or diminution of service.
If a landlord unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service, the tenant may recover possession or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, recover an amount not more than three (3) months periodic rent or threefold the actual damages sustained by him or her, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees. If the rental agreement is terminated the landlord shall return all security recoverable under § 34-18-19 and all prepaid rent. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-34
Eviction for nonpayment of rent.
(a) If any part of the stipulated rent is due and in arrears for fifteen (15) days, the landlord shall send a written notice, in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(a), specifying the amount of the rent which is fifteen (15) days in arrears, making demand for the rent, and notifying the tenant that unless he or she cures the breach within five (5) days of the date of mailing of the notice, the rental agreement shall terminate, and the landlord shall commence an eviction action in the appropriate district court or housing court.
(b) If the tenant fails to cure his or her breach by paying the stipulated rent in arrears within five (5) days of the date of mailing of the notice, the landlord may commence an eviction action against the tenant, which shall be filed no earlier than the sixth (6th) day after mailing of the written demand notice. The action shall be commenced by filing a “Complaint for Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent” in the appropriate court in the form provided in § 34-18-56(d).
(c) The summons for eviction for nonpayment of rent shall specify the date for hearing and be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(g). The summons shall specify that the defendant may file and serve his or her answer prior to or at the time of hearing, and that if he or she fails to answer or appear at the hearing, he or she shall be defaulted.
(d) If the defendant files his or her answer and commences discovery prior to the hearing, and it appears, for good cause shown, that the defendant will not be able to conduct his or her defense without the benefit of discovery, the court may continue the hearing to allow a reasonable time for the completion of discovery. In the case of such a continuance, the court may, in its discretion, order interim rent, or other remedy, to be paid to preserve the status quo pending hearing. Except as provided in this chapter, the landlord may recover possession and actual damages. In cases where the tenant had received a demand notice pursuant to subsection (a) within the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the action, and the tenant’s nonpayment was willful, the landlord may also recover a reasonable attorney’s fee.
(e) The tenant shall have the right to cure his or her failure to pay rent by tendering the full amount of rent prior to commencement of suit. If the tenant has not received a notice pursuant to subsection (a) of this section within the six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the action, the tenant shall have the right to cure his or her failure to pay rent after commencement of suit by tendering the full amount of rent in arrears, together with court costs, at the time of hearing. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-35
Eviction for noncompliance with rental agreement.
(a) Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or a noncompliance with § 34-18-24 materially affecting health and safety, the landlord shall deliver a written demand notice to the tenant, in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(b), specifying:
(1) The acts and/or omissions constituting the breach of the rental agreement or of § 34-18-24;
(2) The acts, repairs, or payment of damages, which are necessary to remedy the breach; and
(3) That unless the breach is remedied within twenty (20) days of mailing of the notice the rental agreement shall terminate upon a specified date, which shall not be less than twenty-one (21) days after the mailing of the notice.
(b) Unless it is a violation of § 34-18-24(8), (9), or (10), if the tenant adequately remedies the breach before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement shall not terminate. If the breach is not remedied, the landlord may commence an eviction action, which shall be filed no earlier than the first day following the termination date specified in the written demand notice. The action shall be initiated by filing a “Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other Than for Nonpayment of Rent” in the appropriate court according to the form in § 34-18-56(e).
(c) The summons shall be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(h) and shall specify that the tenant has twenty (20) days from the date of service in which to file his or her answer to the complaint, and that if he or she fails to file his or her answer within that time, he or she will be defaulted. The matter may be assigned for hearing in accordance with the rules of procedure of the appropriate court.
(d) Except as provided in this chapter, the landlord may recover possession, actual damages and obtain injunctive relief for noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or § 34-18-24. If the tenant’s noncompliance is willful, the landlord may recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
(e) If substantially the same act or omission which constituted a prior noncompliance, of which good faith notice was given, recurs within six (6) months, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement upon at least twenty (20) days’ written notice, specifying the breach and the date of termination of the rental agreement. No allowance of time to remedy noncompliance shall be required.
(f) If the tenant has violated § 34-18-24(8), (9), or (10), or if the tenant
(i) is a seasonal tenant occupying the premises pursuant to a written lease agreement which commences no earlier than May 1st of the occupation year and expires no later than October 15th of the occupation year, with no right of renewal or extension beyond the above dates; and
(ii) has been charged with violating a municipal ordinance pertaining to legal occupancy or excessive noise or other disturbance of the peace, the landlord shall not be required to send a notice of noncompliance to the tenant and may immediately file a complaint for eviction in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(e) and seek the relief set forth in subsection (d). Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-36
Termination of periodic tenancy.
(a) The landlord or the tenant may terminate a week-to-week tenancy by a written notice, in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(c), delivered to the other at least ten (10) days before the termination date specified in the notice.
(b) The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy or any periodic tenancy for more than a month or less than a year by a written notice, in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(c), delivered to the other at least thirty (30) days before the date specified in the notice.
(c) The landlord or tenant may terminate a year-to-year tenancy by written notice, in a form substantially similar to that provided in § 34-18-56(c), delivered to the other at least three (3) months prior to the expiration of the occupation year. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-37
Eviction for unlawfully holding over after termination or expiration of tenancy.
(a) If the tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration of the term of the rental agreement or after the termination of a periodic tenancy, the landlord may commence an eviction action, which may be filed no earlier than the first day following the expiration or termination of the tenancy. The action shall be commenced by filing a “Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other Than for Nonpayment of Rent,” which shall be filed in the appropriate court according to the form provided in § 34-18-56(e).
(b) The summons shall be in the form provided in § 34-18-56(h) and shall specify that the tenant has twenty (20) days from the date of service in which to file his or her answer to the complaint, and that if he or she fails to file his or her answer within that time, he or she will be defaulted. The matter may be assigned for hearing in accordance with the rules of procedure of the appropriate court.
(c) If the tenant’s holdover is willful and not in good faith, the landlord may also recover, in addition to possession, an amount not more than three (3) months’ periodic rent or threefold the actual damages sustained by him or her, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees. If the landlord consents to the tenant’s occupancy, the parties may agree to a definite term. If no term is specified, the term shall be week-to-week if the tenant pays on a week-to-week basis, and in all other cases, month-to-month. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-38
Failure to maintain.
If there is noncompliance by tenant with § 34-18-24 materially affecting health and safety that can be remedied by repair, replacement of a damaged item, or cleaning, and the tenant fails to comply as promptly as conditions require in case of emergency or within twenty (20) days after written notice by the landlord specifying the breach and requesting that the tenant remedy it within that period of time, the landlord may enter the dwelling unit and cause the work to be done in a skilled manner and submit the itemized bill for the actual and reasonable cost or the fair and reasonable value thereof as rent on the next date periodic rent is due, or if the rental agreement has terminated, for immediate payment. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-39
Remedies for abandonment.
If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord shall send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the tenant’s last known address giving notice that unless a reply is received from the tenant within seven (7) days, the landlord shall re-rent the premises. If the notice is returned as undeliverable, or the tenant fails to contact the landlord within seven (7) days, the landlord shall make reasonable efforts to rent the premises at a fair rental. If the landlord rents the dwelling unit for a term beginning before the expiration of the rental agreement, the tenancy terminates as of the date of the new tenancy. If the landlord fails to use reasonable efforts to rent the dwelling unit at fair rental, or if the landlord accepts the abandonment as a surrender, the rental agreement is deemed to be terminated by the landlord as of the date the landlord has notice of the abandonment. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-40
Waiver of landlord’s right to terminate.
Acceptance of rent with knowledge of a default by the tenant or acceptance of performance by him or her that varies from the terms of the rental agreement constitutes a waiver of the landlord’s right to terminate the rental agreement for that breach, unless the landlord gives written notice within ten (10) days. However, acceptance of partial payment of rent shall not constitute a waiver of the balance due. Acceptance does not waive the landlord’s right to seek remedies for the default. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-41
Landlord liens – Distraint for rent abolished.
(a) A lien or security interest on behalf of the landlord in the tenant’s household goods is not enforceable unless perfected before the effective date of this chapter, except as provided in § 34-18-50.
(b) Distraint for rent is abolished. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-42
Remedy after termination.
If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord has a claim for possession, for a sum for reasonable use and occupation subsequent to the termination, and for actual damages for breach of the rental agreement and reasonable attorney’s fees. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-43
Self-help recovery of possession prohibited.
A landlord may not recover or take possession of the dwelling unit by action or otherwise, including willful diminution of services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service to the tenant, except in case of abandonment, surrender, or as permitted in this chapter. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-44
Landlord and tenant remedies for abuse of access.
(a) If the tenant refuses to allow lawful access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access, or terminate the rental agreement.
(b) If the landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes repeated demands for entry otherwise lawful but which have the effect of unreasonably harassing the tenant, the tenant may obtain injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of the conduct or terminate the rental agreement.
(c) In any action under subsection (a) or (b) the prevailing party may recover actual damages and shall be awarded costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Title 34, Chap. 34-18, § 34-18-45
Retaliatory conduct prohibited.