Title 34

Chapter 18
Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-18-46

§ 34-18-46. Retaliatory conduct prohibited.

(a) Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession because:

(1) The tenant has complained to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety; or

(2) The tenant has complained to the landlord of a violation under § 34-18-22; or

(3) The tenant has organized or become a member of a tenants’ union or similar organization; or

(4) The tenant has availed himself or herself of any other lawful rights and remedies.

(b) If the landlord acts in violation of subsection (a), the tenant is entitled to the remedies provided in § 34-18-34 and has a defense in any retaliatory action against him or her for possession. In an action by or against the tenant, evidence of a complaint within six (6) months before the alleged act of retaliation creates a presumption that the landlord’s conduct was in retaliation. The presumption does not arise if the tenant made the complaint after notice of a proposed rental increase or diminution of services. “Presumption” means that the trier of fact must find the existence of the fact presumed unless and until evidence is introduced which would support a finding of its nonexistence.

(c) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b), a landlord may bring an action for possession if:

(1) The violation of the applicable building or housing code was caused primarily by lack of reasonable care by the tenant, a member of his or her family, or other person on the premises with his or her consent; or

(2) The tenant is in default in rent; or

(3) Compliance with the applicable building or housing code or other public action such as eminent domain, requires alteration, remodeling, or demolition which would effectively deprive the tenant of use of the dwelling unit, and the relocation requirements have been met by the municipality.

(d) The maintenance of an action under subsection (c) of this section does not release the landlord from liability under § 34-18-28(b).

History of Section.
P.L. 1986, ch. 200, § 2.