County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Richard G. Riendeau, Esq.
Defendant: David P. Destefano, Esq.
District Court appeal follows a Judgment in favor of the
Plaintiff landlord, Commerce Park Village Green, LLC. The
Defendant tenant, Vito Vitone, took an appeal to this Court
following entry of Judgment. The matter is therefore before
the Court for trial de novo on the trespass and
ejectment action. Rather than proceed with a trial de
novo in open court, the parties agreed to submit the
matter on stipulated facts. The Court adopts the Stipulated
Facts as its findings of fact for purposes of trial de
accordance with a written lease agreement (Lease), Defendant
Vito Vitone (Tenant) rented condominium unit number 5 at
property owned by the corporate Plaintiff Commerce Park
Village Green, LLC (Landlord). The Lease term was for one
year commencing July 1, 2010 and ending on June 30, 2011. The
Tenant did not vacate the property on June 30, 2011, but
remained a holdover tenant through July 31, 2011. The Tenant
did not pay the rent or condominium fee for the month of July
2011. The Lease contains a specific provision for holdover,
which provides in pertinent part as follows: "[i]f
Resident holds over and fails to vacate on or before the
required move out date (i.e. the end of the Lease Term or . .
. extension period after proper move out or
vacate notice has been given, or a different move out
date agreed to by the parties in writing), Resident shall be
liable to pay double Rent for the holdover period . . ."
Lease ¶ 16 (emphasis added).
Landlord did not send a notice of noncompliance to the Tenant
in accordance with the Lease provisions and G.L. 1956 §
34-18-35. Landlord filed an action for eviction for reasons
other than nonpayment of rent. Sec. 34-18-36. On August 10,
2011, Judgment entered for the Landlord for possession and
back rent. Tenant took a timely appeal from that Judgment and
is entitled to trial de novo. When the case was
reached for trial, the parties, in lieu of trial, stipulated
to all material facts.
parties stipulate and agree that the only issue or
controversy between the parties is the interpretation of
Paragraph 16 of the Lease, specifically the Holdover clause.
The Landlord claims that no "move out or vacate"
notice to double the rent for the month of July is necessary.
The Tenant claims that the Landlord was required to serve the
Tenant with a "proper move out or vacate notice"
before a complaint for eviction may commence, as well as
before the holdover provision of the Lease may be invoked.
Defective notice under the statute is jurisdictional, and
this Court has no jurisdiction to consider a complaint absent
strict compliance with the notice provisions of the statute.
See, Hedco Ltd. v. Blanchette, 763 A.2d 639
(R.I. 2000); see also, Abbenante v.
Giampietro, 75 R.I. 349, 66 A.2d 501 (1949). The purpose
of notice is to advise the tenant of the reason for eviction,
and provides an opportunity to cure prior to the commencement
of an eviction action. Proper notice also affords the tenant
a reasonable opportunity to secure alternative housing before
an eviction action is commenced.