§ 34-18-38.2. Just cause needed for eviction of foreclosed residential property tenants.
(a) Notwithstanding any provision of the general or public laws to the contrary, a foreclosing owner shall not evict a tenant except for just cause, or unless a binding purchase-and-sale agreement has been executed for a bona fide third party to purchase the housing accommodation from a foreclosing owner, and the foreclosing owner has disclosed to the third-party purchaser that said purchaser may be responsible for evicting the current occupants of the housing accommodation after the sale occurs; or with respect to a housing accommodation in a housing accommodation insured by the Federal Housing Administration, unless HUD denies a request by any tenant for an occupied conveyance or if a tenant does not submit to HUD a request for continued occupancy before the deadline set forth in a notice to occupants of pending acquisition delivered to the tenant by the foreclosing owner.
(b) Within thirty (30) days of the foreclosure, the foreclosing owner shall post in a prominent location in the building in which the rental housing unit is located, a written notice stating:
(1) The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and telephone contact information of the foreclosing owner, the building manager, or other representative of the foreclosing owner responsible for the management of such building;
(2) The address to which rent charges shall be sent;
(3) That in order to remain on the premises as a tenant of the foreclosing owner, the household must submit, within thirty (30) days, a completed form to be provided with said written notice to the same address where rent charges shall be sent, said form to be substantially similar to the request for continued occupancy form used by HUD and shall contain an authorization to conduct a credit check of the person or persons submitting the form. This requirement shall be satisfied if the foreclosing owner or someone acting on his/her behalf has:
(i) Posted the notice in a prominent location in the building;
(ii) Mailed the notice by first-class mail to each unit; and
(iii) Slid the notice under the door of each unit in the building a document stating the names, addresses, and telephone contact information of the foreclosing owner, the building manager or other representative of the foreclosing owner responsible for the management of such building, and stating the address to which rent and use and occupancy charges shall be sent.
(c) A foreclosing owner shall not evict a tenant except for actions that constitute just cause, and:
(1) A foreclosing owner shall not evict a tenant for the following actions that constitute just cause until thirty (30) days after the notice required by subsection (b) of this section is posted, mailed, and delivered:
(i) The tenant has failed to pay the rent in effect prior to the foreclosure as long as the foreclosing owner notified the tenant in writing of the amount of rent that was to be paid and to whom it was to be paid;
(ii) The tenant has materially violated an obligation or covenant of the tenancy or occupancy, other than the obligation to surrender possession upon proper notice;
(iii) The tenant, who had a written bona fide lease or other rental agreement that terminated, on or after July 1, 2014, has refused, after written request or demand by the foreclosing owner, to execute a written extension or renewal thereof for a further term of like duration and in such terms that are not inconsistent with this section; and
(iv) The foreclosing owner: (A) Seeks to permanently board up or demolish the premises because the premises has been cited by a state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is not economically feasible for the foreclosing owner to eliminate the violations; or (B) Seeks to comply with a state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency that has cited the premises for substantial violations affecting the health and safety of tenants and it is not feasible to so comply without removing the tenant; or (C) Seeks to correct an illegal occupancy because the premises has been cited by a state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency or zoning officials and it is not feasible to correct such illegal occupancy without evicting the tenant.
(2) A foreclosing owner shall not evict a tenant for the following actions that constitute just cause until the notice required by subsection (b) is posted and delivered:
(i) The tenant is committing a nuisance in the unit; is permitting a nuisance to exist in the unit; is causing substantial damage to the unit; or is creating a substantial interference with the quiet enjoyment of other occupants;
(ii) The tenant is using or permitting the unit to be used for any illegal purpose; and
(iii) The tenant has refused the foreclosing owner reasonable access to the unit for the purpose of making necessary repairs or improvements required by the laws of the United States, the state of Rhode Island or any subdivision thereof, or for the purpose of showing the unit to a prospective purchaser or mortgagee.
(d) The following procedures shall be followed for the eviction of a tenant pursuant to subsection (c) of this section:
(1) For evictions brought pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(i), the foreclosing owner shall follow § 34-18-35;
(2) For evictions brought pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(ii), or subsection (c)(2) the foreclosing owner shall follow § 34-18-36;
(3) For evictions brought pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(iii) or (c)(1)(iv); or for evictions brought where a binding purchase-and-sale agreement has been executed for a bona fide third party to purchase the housing accommodation from a foreclosing owner; or for evictions brought with respect to housing accommodations located in a premises insured by the federal housing administration as provided in subsection (a); or for an eviction brought against a tenant who fails to return the form requesting continued occupancy pursuant to subsection (b); the foreclosing owner shall follow the procedures for terminating a month-to-month tenancy set forth in § 34-18-37, provided that any obligations of the foreclosing owner arising under the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009, as such act is amended and extended from time to time, shall first have been satisfied; and provided, further, that in any eviction brought against a tenant pursuant to subsection (c), the tenant may raise an affirmative defense that the form was not posted or served upon the tenant as required by subsection (b).
(e) A foreclosing owner may evict any person other than a tenant by following the procedures for terminating a month-to-month tenancy set forth in § 34-18-37.
(f) If a foreclosing owner disagrees with the amount of rent paid by the tenant to the foreclosing owner, the foreclosing owner may bring a claim in district court to claim that the rental charge is unreasonable and set a new rental rate. A bona fide lease or bona fide tenancy between the foreclosed-upon owner and the lessee, or proof of rental payment to the foreclosed-upon owner, shall be presumed to be a reasonable rental rate.
(g) Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the right of any tenant to knowingly waive the provisions of this section for consideration acceptable to such tenant.
(h) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, a foreclosing owner shall be exempt from the requirement of this section if:
(1) The foreclosing owner is headquartered in Rhode Island and maintains a physical office or offices in Rhode Island from which office or offices it carries out full-service mortgage operations, including the acceptance and processing of mortgage payments and the provision of local customer service and loss mitigation, and where Rhode Island staff have the authority to approve loan restructuring and other loss mitigation strategies; or
(2) The foreclosing owner conducted fewer than fifteen (15) foreclosures in Rhode Island during the prior calendar year, excluding any conveyances of property by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
(P.L. 2014, ch. 486, § 2; P.L. 2014, ch. 513, § 2.)