The Process of Eviction Lawsuits

When you have breached your obligations concerning your lease, you can be evicted by your landlord. In Rhode Island, there is a specific process for eviction lawsuits. Here are the main steps of the process. 

1. The eviction notice is served.

The first step in an eviction lawsuit is that the landlord will provide an eviction notice to the tenant. The notice must be in writing and must be sent through the mail; it cannot be given in person. 

2. The tenant can respond to the notice.

Once the tenant has received the eviction notice, he or she generally has a right to cure the breach by remedying the cause of the breach. For example, if the tenant has past-due rent, he or she can pay it to cure the issue. During this period of time, the landlord is not permitted to take any action. 


The landlord must provide a 15-day grace period to pay the rent after it was due. When the notice was sent, it must state that the rent is now more than 15 days late and that the eviction will occur if the money is not paid within five days.

Non-Compliance with the Rental Agreement

The landlord must provide a 20-day notice to the tenant, which must state the nature of the breach and what the tenant must do to cure it in order to avoid eviction. However, if the tenant has already breached the lease within the last six months, he or she will forfeit the right to cure it. 

Possession of Property Beyond Lease

If a tenant has remained in possession of the unit beyond the time period of the lease without the permission of the owner, the landlord is required to provide a notice of 10 days for a week-to-week tenancy; 30 days for a month-to-month tenancy; at least three months-notice for a year-to-year tenancy. The eviction notice must also tell the tenant to vacate the premises and remove their personal property by the date listed on the notice. 

3. The landlord takes legal action.

If the breach has not been cured, then the landlord can commence the official eviction process by filing an eviction for non-payment of rent or for noncompliance with the rental agreement. 

Eviction for Non-Payment

For an eviction for non-payment, the complaint must state the following:

  • Plaintiff is the owner or landlord of the premises where the tenant resides;
  • The tenant is more than 15 days late in rent;
  • The amount of rent;
  • The term the rent must be paid;
  • The total amount due at the time the complaint was drafted;
  • The landlord served the required 5-day notice;
  • A copy of the notice;
  • The date the notice was mailed;
  • The tenant hasn’t paid the rent and remains in. possession of the rental unit; and
  • The landlord requests judgment for possession of the premises and back rent in the amount listed on the complaint.

Non-Compliance with the Rental Agreement

For an eviction for non-compliance with the rental agreement, the complaint must state the following:

  • Plaintiff is the owner or landlord of the premises where the tenant resides;
  • The tenant breached their obligations under the rental agreement as included in the notice;
  • A copy of the notice;
  • The date the landlord mailed the notice;
  • The landlord mailed the notice to the tenant;
  • The tenant hasn’t cured their breach;
  • The tenant has remained in possession of the property; and
  • The landlord requests judgment for possession of the premises and for the amount claimed as well as an explanation of the amount.

4. The landlord has the tenant served.

The landlord will then issue a summons to the tenant explaining that legal action has been taken against them. The summons includes the court, address, and hearing date, and explains that the tenant has 20 days to provide an answer in order to avoid default judgment against them if they don’t respond to the complaint. 

5. There is an eviction hearing. 

Next, the parties will attend the hearing, with each side presenting their case. The court will then rule in favor of either the landlord or tenant. Should the court rule in favor of the landlord, the tenant must vacate the property or appeal within five days. 

6. The landlord requests a writ of execution.

The purpose of a writ of execution is to provide the tenant with the date by which they are required to leave the property and take their belongings. The writ of execution is also given to the sheriff who is able to forcibly remove the tenant if necessary. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island Who Need to Pursue an Eviction Lawsuit

There’s no doubt that evicting a tenant can be an extremely stressful and overwhelming time. You want to be sure that you do everything correctly the first time around. That’s where a real estate attorney can help. 

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island real estate lawyers can help to walk you through the eviction process. We have deep experience working with both landlords and tenants. If you are planning on evicting a tenant, or if have already had your eviction hearing and have been denied on a technicality, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!