Tenant Protection Against Evictions and Help Paying Rent

CDC Eviction Moratorium Overturned in August 2021

The United States Supreme Court struck down the CDC Eviction Moratorium on August 26, 2021, meaning it is no longer in effect and evictions may continue. Evictions in Rhode Island are carried out by a judge so you cannot legally be forced out of your home until after a court order is obtained and a sheriff or authorized constable carries out the order. If you are facing an eviction, please contact the Center for Justice at (401) 491-1101 for more information.

Rental Assistance is Available in Rhode Island – How it Works*

Help is available to pay past-due rent and past-due utility bills for money owed during the pandemic (since April 2020). You can apply for help through Rent Relief RI

If you are eligible for rental assistance and your landlord accepts payment for back rent through Rent Relief RI, any pending eviction will be dismissed. You may also be eligible for additional help with paying the rent going forward so that you can stay in your home.

What is Rent Relief?

Rent Relief RI gives financial assistance for tenants to pay their back due, current, or future rent and utility payments, pending application approval. Tenants may apply online and specific landlord information can be found here. This funding is provided by the U.S. Treasury Department to the State of Rhode Island. A Spanish version of the site is available here.

What does Rent Relief cover?

Rent Relief can help tenants and landlords with rent and some utilities, even back-owed amounts as far back as April 1, 2020. For rental assistance, the monthly amount given is determined by your lease and the program can help cover a security deposit and up to three months of future rent. Applicants may be eligible for a total of 18 months of assistance.

Utility assistance can include electricity, water, trash, and heat. Please note that you may apply for utility payment assistance without needing rental assistance.

There is no requirement to pay back any of the financial assistance received.

Are landlords required to participate?

Either landlords or tenants may initially fill out an application. However, information from both is required to complete an application.

If a landlord is unwilling to participate, a tenant may be paid directly for back rent in order to pay their landlord and stabilize their housing situation.

How does Rent Relief RI work?

RI Housing uses a “prioritization” system that uses the Area Median Income (AMI) table to determine applicants eligibility and need for timely assistance. After an application is submitted, program staff work on the case based on the priority level to determine if financial assistance is available for that individual. Cases where there is an eviction pending or other immediate risk of homelessness are prioritized. Please see the FAQs on the website for more detailed information.


Please look at the Rent Relief RI website for more detailed information about eligibility.

As a tenant, you must meet all of the following criteria for consideration:

  • Certain household income limits, varying by location and size of your household. 
  • Qualification for unemployment benefits or a reduction in income/incurred significant costs, OR had other financial hardship during COVID-19, either directly or indirectly. You will need to submit evidence of this hardship as part of the application process, which can include describing the hardship circumstances in a sworn statement.
  • Must be at risk for being unhoused or have housing instability, which may include the need to submit eviction notices, utility bills, or a statement of past-due rent in your application.

Documentation you may need to apply:

For tenants:

  • Documentation demonstrating that you live in Rhode Island (ex. bank statement, utility bill, other bills at your address, driver’s license or state ID)
  • Proof of income (ex. wage statements, paycheck stubs, evidence of SNAP, SSI or other public benefits, unemployment letter, 2020 tax return)
  • Signed copy of your lease agreement or documentation showing tenancy (a pattern of rent payment, rent receipts or a statement from your landlord)
  • Documentation demonstrating your rental/utility amounts owed (ex. past due utility bill, eviction notice, 5 day demand letter, communication from landlord stating you owe rent)
  • Self-attestation form stating that you meet the eligibility criteria
  • If you have received a notice from the court for an eviction proceeding against you, please have that documentation available.

For landlords:

When a tenant has completed the application, landlords will receive a request to upload several documents, including a W-9 for the property owner, direct deposit or ACH payment information, documentation that verifies the EIN/TIN on the owner’s W-9, and proof of ownership.

*Thank you to Michigan Legal Help for their excellent online information that influenced this post

The Center for Justice thanks Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island for its second year of support of CFJ’s Pandemic Defense of Healthy Homes Program.