Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Laws
March 2, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Housing code violations
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: Permitted
Rent Control: N/A
Late Fee Limit: N/A
Grace Period Minimum: 15 days
Amount Limit: 1 month’s rent, plus a furniture deposit up to 1 month’s rent
Return Within: 20 days
Rent Demand Notice: 5-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 20-day cure-or-quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 20-day quit notice
|Fair Housing Protections |
Source of income
Notice: 2 days’
Permitted Times of Entry: N/A
Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Landlords must disclose to the tenant in writing the name, address, and phone number of the person authorized to manage the premises and the owner or person responsible for receiving notices.
Housing Code Violations
Rhode Island landlords are required to inform prospective tenants of any outstanding minimum housing code violations that exist on the building before entering into a rental agreement.
Additionally, if the landlord is cited by a housing code enforcement agency for a housing code violation, they must deliver a copy of the notice to each residential tenant within 30 days of receiving it. This disclosure requirement does not apply if the landlord corrects all violations within the 30-day period.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: Unless the rental agreement specifies otherwise, rent is due at the dwelling unit on the first day of the month (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-15(c)).
- Application Fees: Rental application fees are not regulated in Rhode Island.
- Rent Increases: There is no statewide rent control in Rhode Island.
- Late Fees: There is no statutory limit on late fees in Rhode Island.
- Grace Period: Rhode Island law does not specify a grace period, but landlords may not send a rent demand notice until rent is 15 days late. Therefore, Rhode Island has an effective 15-day mandatory grace period (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-35(a)).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge a fee of $25 (RI Gen. Laws § 6-42-3).
- Withholding Rent/Repair and Deduct: If the landlord fails to comply with standards of habitability and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than $125, the tenant may arrange for the repair and deduct the cost from the rent. However, the tenant must first notify the landlord of their intent to repair and deduct and wait 20 days for the landlord to make a good faith effort to resolve the issue. The tenant must also send the landlord an itemized statement with the fair and reasonable value of the repairs listed. This remedy cannot be used if the tenant or tenant’s guest caused the condition (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-30). Additionally, if the breach materially affects health and safety, the tenant has the right to terminate the rental agreement after 30 days if the landlord has not remediated the breach in 20 days (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-28).
- Deposit Limit: 1 month’s rent (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-19(a)). The security deposit guarantees the landlord money to restore the property to its original condition. If the unit is furnished and the replacement value of the furniture is at least $5,000, the landlord may also charge a separate furniture security deposit of up to one month’s rent (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-19(e)).
- Interest: Landlords in Rhode Island are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
- Return Within: 20 days (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-19(b)).
- Deposit Location: Landlords are not required to keep security deposits in a separate bank account.
- Withholding: Landlords may withhold funds from the security deposit for unpaid rent, reasonable cleaning expenses, trash disposal expenses, physical damages to the premises other than wear and tear, and any other loss resulting from the tenant’s noncompliance. Landlords must also itemize all deductions and deliver them in a written notice with the remainder of the security deposit (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-19(b)).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Rhode Island state law adds sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, marital status, source of income, military status, ancestry, age, and HIV status (RI Gen. Laws § 34-37-4, 23-6.3-11).
- Rhode Island landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- A Rhode Island criminal background check may be used during tenant screening.
- Rhode Island landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 2 days’ notice (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-26(c)).
- Permitted Times: Rhode Island state law does not designate any time-of-day restrictions for entering. Landlords may enter the property for inspections, repairs, decorations, alterations, improvements, services, or showings (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-26(a)). Landlords may also enter if the tenant has been absent from the property for more than seven days and if it is reasonably necessary to protect the property (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-26(b)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of an emergency, landlords may enter without prior consent or notice (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-26(b)).
- Rent Demand Notice: 5 days to pay or quit (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-35(a)).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 20 days to cure or quit. This notice applies when the tenant commits a noncompliance with the rental agreement that materially affects health and safety (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-36(a-d)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 20 days to quit. According to eviction laws in Rhode Island, this notice applies when the tenant substantially commits the same noncompliance act within six months (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-36(e)).
Other Laws and Facts About Rhode Island
- The median rent rate in Rhode Island is $2,150.
- The median rent rate in Providence is $2,100.
- Landlords in Rhode Island must give 30 days’ notice to increase rent for most tenants, but they must give 60 days’ notice for tenants over 62 years old (RI Gen. Laws § 34-18-16.1).