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Yes, his email and the check can be used as evidence of the agreement you entered into with him. I am a little confused about the nature of the agreement you had with him though, because if you agreed to purchase the house together, your name should have been on the deed. Or maybe you just had some sort of agreement to loan him some monies for him to complete the purchase of the house, and to make repairs etc. It may be a little difficult for you to prove the exact nature of the agreement you had with him if nothing is on paper. But the email and the check at least can be used as some evidence of the terms of the agreement. Your own testimony can also be used to establish the terms of your agreement.
It does not look like small claims court will be a good option for you. The limit for small claims in Rhode Island is only $1,500 (Click Here). I am not a Rhode Island attorney, but it looks like you will have to take him to District Court in Rhode Island. Since the amount involved is $7,500 and small claims may not be an option, you may want to consider hiring an attorney.
The maximum amount you will be allowed to recover in small claims would be $1,500. That the jurisdictional limit Rhode Island small claims court. So if you want to try to get more, with or without an attorney, you would have to go to District Court. Your testimony plus the email should be sufficient to prove an agreement as to the $3,000.
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