Rhode Island Rental Laws – An Overview of Landlord-Tenant Rights in Rhode Island

The relationship between landlords and tenants in Rhode Island is governed by the state’s law (Residential Landlord and Tenant Act). The law comes into effect once a lease has been established, through either a verbal or written agreement to pay rent in exchange for living in a rental property. 

Now, signing a lease gives both parties certain rights and responsibilities. It’s important, as a landlord, to familiarize yourself with these rights and responsibilities in order to run a successful investment business. 

The following is a basic overview of Rhode Island landlord-tenant law. 

Required Landlord Disclosures in Rhode Island 

Before a tenant can sign a lease and move in, you must provide them with certain mandatory disclosures. Those mandatory disclosures are as follows:  

  • Disclosure regarding the use of lead-based paint. This is a federal requirement that applies to landlords renting out properties built prior to 1978. You must let tenants know about lead paint concentrations in your unit before they can move in. 
  • Disclosure regarding the management of the property. This is a state law that requires Rhode Island landlords to give their tenants the name and address of the person tasked with the management of the property. 
  • Disclosure about housing code violations. Does your Rhode Island rental have an outstanding code violation? If it does, then you must disclose that information to your tenant.
One person reaching across a desk to hand a pen to another person

Rhode Island Tenant Rights and Responsibilities 

Rhode Island tenants have the following rights. A right to:

  • Live in peace and quiet enjoyment. 
  • Live in a habitable home. 
  • Be provided with notice prior to the termination of their periodic lease or rental agreement. 
  • A judicial eviction process. 
  • Have repairs done within 30 days after requesting them. 
  • Exercise a legal right, such as forming or joining a tenants’ union to advocate for their rights. 
  • Be treated fairly and equally in accordance with Rhode Island’s fair housing laws.
  • Have their security deposit (or whatever portion has remained) returned within 20 days after moving out and providing a forwarding address. 
  • Receive a 30 days notice prior to a rent increase. For Rhode Island tenants over the age of 62 years, you must provide them with a 60 days notice prior to increasing their rent. 
  • Receive a two days advance notice prior to entering their rented premises unless there is an emergency. 

The following are the basic responsibilities Rhode Island tenants have. A Rhode Island tenant has a responsibility to:

  • Keep the unit safe and in a habitable state. 
  • Get rid of the garbage regularly and keep all the provided fixtures clean and sanitary. 
  • Make small repairs and maintenance. 
  • Respect the peace and quiet of other tenants. 
  • Not engage in any violent activity while at the premises. 
  • Not engage in any illegal activities while renting the property, such as manufacturing or selling a controlled substance. 
  • Not cause negligent or careless property damage to the property. 
  • Use all the appliances and facilities for their intended purposes. 
Black gavel on a desk

Rhode Island Landlord Responsibilities and Rights

Landlords in Rhode Island have the following rights. A right to:

  • Properly manage the property without interference from the tenant.
  • Evict a tenant for violating a term of the lease agreement. 
  • Require a tenant to pay a security deposit prior to living on the premises. 
  • Terminate a periodic lease after providing the tenant with proper notice. 
  • Enforce the terms of the lease agreement, such as charging a late fee on rent payments. 
  • Charge whatever amount of rent and increase it by whatever amount. 
  • Enter rented premises to perform certain responsibilities, such as inspecting the unit or responding to an emergency. 
  • Receive proper notice when a tenant is planning on going out of town for an extended period. 

When it comes to responsibilities, landlords are obligated to do the following in Rhode Island. 

  • Provide tenants with a clean and habitable dwelling. 
  • Only evict a tenant through a court order and not through retaliatory, discriminatory, or “self-help” tactics
  • Abide by the state’s security deposit laws, such as returning a tenant’s deposit within 20 days. 
  • Provide proper notice to a tenant before terminating their periodic lease agreement. 
  • Provide a tenant with proper notice prior to increasing their rent. 
  • Abide by the state’s anti-discrimination laws. 
  • Provide a tenant with a two days notice prior to entering their rented premises. 
  • Provide a tenant with the aforementioned disclosures. 
A landlord looking at a lease agreement with a family

Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Laws: An Overview

1. Tenant Privacy and Landlord’s Right to Enter a Dwelling 

Rhode Island landlords must respect their tenants’ peace and quiet enjoyment. Before entering your tenant’s rented premises, you must give them notice of at least two days. An exception is during an emergency. The entry must also occur at a reasonable time of day. 

2. Housing Discrimination Laws

The Federal Fair Housing Act. prohibits discrimination based on seven protected classes. That is race, color, religion, sex, nationality, religion, familial status, and disability. The state of Rhode Island also adds extra protections based on domestic abuse victim status, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, and age.

3. Security Deposit Laws

Landlords in Rhode Island have a responsibility to abide by the state’s security deposit laws. The laws define things like the maximum amount a landlord can charge, when they must return it, and what deductions they can make. 

For instance, the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Rhode Island is capped at the equivalent of one month’s rent. 

4. Condition, Maintenance, and Repairs

As a Rhode Island landlord, you have a responsibility to provide your tenant with a clean and habitable dwelling. In other words, the dwelling must abide by the state’s basic safety, health, and structural codes. 

Close up of a hand signing a document with a fountain pen

When it comes to repairs, you must make them within 20 days of receiving the notice. If you fail to do so, your tenant can exercise their right to “repair and deduct.” 

5. Renters’ Rights to Withhold Rent 

A Rhode Island tenant has a right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to make important repairs. They also have the option to repair the issue themselves and then make appropriate deductions from future rent payments. 

Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law: Bottom Line

If you have any other questions or need expert help in managing your Rhode Island property, Stonelink Property Management can help. We’re one of the largest and fastest-growing property management companies in Rhode Island. Get in touch to learn more about our property management services!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs. 

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