§ 34-18-31. 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.
(P.L. 1986, ch. 200, § 2.)