In a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision, the Court summarily dismissed a residential tenant’s appeal due to the tenant’s failure to continue to pay rent during the pendency of the appeal. This requirement, which is set forth in section 34-18-52 of the Rhode Island General Laws, is often the downfall of a tenant’s appeal in either the Superior or Supreme Court.
The matter before the Court was Naughton v. Guilloteau et al., No. 2019-6-Appeal, where the plaintiff/landlord brought an eviction against the defendant/tenant in the District Court. The District Court entered judgment for the landlord, and the tenant appealed that decision to the Superior Court. After a hearing at the Superior Court, judgment once again entered for the landlord. Undeterred, the tenant filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, while the appeal was pending before the Supreme Court, the tenant failed to continue to pay rent to the landlord. Because of this failure, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court.
This case highlights a critical, but oftentimes unknown, provision of the Rhode Island General Laws regarding landlord tenant disputes. That provision states that during the pendency of an appeal, whether residential (§ 34-18-52) or commercial (§ 34-18.1-18), the tenant must continue to pay rent to the landlord or else risk having judgment enter against them. Anyone that finds themselves embroiled in a landlord-tenant dispute needs to be mindful of this requirement. For further information on this issue, please contact Attorney Patrick J. McBurney at 401-824-5100 or email

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