From the Mailbag of

Logo of The Helping Hand with handshake graphic.

My rental is a complete safety concern due to ongoing construction…[landlord] refuses to fix anything we complain about and threatens homelessness as a retaliation method.

The following is an actual conversation between an Uprise RI user and our Helping Hand chat assistant. The most helpful conversations, as determined by our editors, will be showcased on our homepage, with personally identifying details removed when applicable.

Posted May 27, 2024

User: The property is a complete safety concern due to ongoing construction…he refuses to fix anything we complain about and threatens homelessness as a retaliation method

The Helping Hand: I’m really sorry to hear that you’re going through this. It sounds incredibly stressful. Before we proceed, could you let me know how long these issues have been going on? Also, have you documented your complaints and his responses in writing? This information will be crucial in advising you on the next steps.

User: Almost 2 years

The Helping Hand: Thank you for sharing that. It’s important to have documentation when dealing with these types of issues. Have you been able to document your complaints and his responses over these two years, like through emails or texts? And just to make sure I give you the most accurate advice, could you tell me what town in Rhode Island the property is located?

User: I’m in cranston, RI and have saved everything and lack of responses or retaliatory response

The Helping Hand: Given your situation in Cranston, RI, and the documentation you’ve kept of the issues and responses, you have several avenues to address the unsafe living conditions and the landlord’s retaliatory threats. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you can do next:

  1. Local Code Enforcement: Contact Cranston’s local code enforcement office to request an inspection of your building for the ongoing construction and safety concerns. They can issue citations to your landlord if the property is found to be in violation of local housing codes.
  2. Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office: File a complaint with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office. You can do this online at Rhode Island Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint or by calling (401) 274-4400. Provide them with all the documentation of your complaints and your landlord’s responses.
  3. Demand Letter: Consider sending a professional demand letter via People Clerk, which can help articulate your concerns and the need for action in a legally structured manner. They offer this service for a fee, which includes drafting and FedEx delivery to your landlord.
  4. Small Claims Court: If the situation does not improve, you may consider filing a complaint in Small Claims Court. The filing fee is currently $75.75. This can be an effective way to seek compensation for any damages or to compel repairs. Information and forms for filing can be found here.

It’s crucial to continue documenting all communications with your landlord, including any more threats or retaliations after taking these steps. This documentation will be vital in any legal proceedings.

The Helping Hand is a free service provided by Uprise RI for Rhode Islanders. It uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology and vast training on RI landlord/tenant law and consumer protection to provide helpful tips and resources specific to the user's needs, at no charge. Help support The Helping Hand with a donation of any kind.