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How to Evict a Tenant in Rhode Island (7 Steps)

When evicting a tenant in Rhode Island, there are four (4) reasons to give for conducting such an action: Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent, Eviction for noncompliance with rental agreement, Termination of Periodic Tenancy, and Eviction for Unlawfully Holding Over After Termination or Expiration of Tenancy. The four eviction notice types that apply to each of these categories can be used to notify a tenant of a landlord’s intent to evict and inform them of any breaches they may have committed, as well as any option they have to cure and avoid the eviction. If the tenant does not remedy or vacate, the landlord may then pursue the eviction through their District Court.

Laws: Chapter 34-18 (Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)

How to Evict

Step 1: Send an Eviction Notice

One of the following notices may be served on the tenant before proceeding to court.

  • Illegal Activity (24-Hour Notice to Quit)Tenants are required to refrain from illegal activities on the property, including maintaining a narcotics nuisance, using the property manufacture, sell, or distribute controlled substances, or commit any crime of violence.1
  • Non-Payment of Rent (5-Day Notice to Quit) — If any part of rent is past due 15 days past the original due date, they may be given 5 days from the date of the notice’s mailing to pay the due amount. The landlord may then proceed to file a “Complaint for Eviction Action for Nonpayment of Rent” in court, but can do this no sooner than the 6th day from mailing the written notice.2
  • Non-Compliance (20-Day Notice to Quit) — The specific acts that have violated the lease agreement or damages caused should be documented on the 20-Day Notice to Quit, which will inform the tenant of their specific breaches of the rental agreement and any actions they have available to cure within the notice period. A second breach within 6 months does not require the landlord to offer an option to cure, and the landlord may proceed with pursuing the eviction.3
  • Month-to-Month (30-Day Notice to Quit) — Both the landlord and the tenant are expected to give 30 days’ notice to the other party when they wish to terminate a month-to-month at-will tenancy.

Step 2: Wait to Hear from the Tenant 

As mentioned, a landlord does not have to offer an option to remedy for all circumstances in noncompliance evictions. However, landlords are required to wait the requisite notice period before moving to file a “Complaint for Eviction Action for Nonpayment of Rent”4 or a “Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other Than for Nonpayment of Rent.”5

Step 3: File in Court 

Forms to File: 


Step 4: Serve the Tenant 

Summons and Complaint for Eviction for Reason Other than for Nonpayment of Rent can be served to the tenant by somebody appointed by the court or a person authorized by law either by giving a copy to the tenant in person or leaving it with somebody of a “suitable age” at the property.8

Meanwhile, Summons and Complaint for Eviction Action for Nonpayment of Rent may be served by the above methods or by posting a copy in a conspicuous place (the door) on the property as well as mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant’s known place of residence.9

If the tenant wishes to contest the eviction, they may file an Answer with the court and a date for an eviction hearing will be set. 

Step 5: Attend a Court Hearing 

If the tenant failed to file an answer, the court may automatically rule in favor of the landlord. Tenants may fight evictions in court by claiming they are subject to retaliatory eviction, discrimination, or that the landlord is guilty of improper procedure during the eviction process. This may include any potential self-help eviction actions committed by the landlord.10

Step 6: Obtain a Writ of Execution 

If a judge rules in favor of the landlord and the tenant doesn’t file an appeal, a writ of execution will be granted after 5 days following the original judgment. A sheriff will be ordered to forcibly remove the tenant if they don’t vacate the property by the final deadline issued by the court.11

Step 7: Repossessing the Property 

The writ of execution will remain in effect for one year after it has been issued by the court,11 however, Rhode Island state law doesn’t specify a requisite deadline for the tenant to leave after the writ or how soon the sheriff will move to return possession of the property to the landlord. 

Video: Evictions in Rhode Island


  1. § 34-18-24(8-10)
  2. § 34-18-35
  3. § 34-18-36
  4. § 34-18-35(b)
  5. § 34-18-36(b)
  6. https://www.slepkowlaw.com/evictions-rent-faqs.htm
  7. https://www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/districtcourt/PDF/District-HomeFeesandCosts.pdf
  8. R.I. Dist. R. Civ. P. 4
  9. § 34-18-10
  10. https://www.helprilaw.org/sites/helprilaw.org/files/Evictions%20for%20Reasons%20Other%20Than%20Non-Payment%20of%20Rent%20Handbook.pdf
  11. § 34-18-48