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

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

Now, signing a lease agreement gives both landlords and tenants 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. 

We have created an RI landlord tenant handbook to give you a basic overview of Rhode Island landlord-tenant law. 

Required Landlord Disclosures in Rhode Island 

Before a renter can sign a lease agreement and move in, you must provide information with disclosing certain mandatory issues as per the local governments. 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 renter 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 renter.
One person reaching across a desk to hand a pen to another person

Rhode Island Tenant Rights and Responsibilities 

According to Rhode Island law residents have the following rights. A right to:

  • Live in peace and quiet enjoyment. 
  • Live in a habitable home. 
  • Be provided with advance warning 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 warning prior to entering their rented premises unless there is an emergency. 

The following are the basic responsibilities Rhode Island tenants have. A resident 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 maintain the property. 
  • 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 renter for violating a term of the agreement, including possessing or selling illegal drugs. 
  • Require a tenant to pay a security deposit prior to living on the premises. 
  • Terminate a periodic lease after providing the tenant with proper warning. 
  • Enforce the terms of the agreed-upon document, 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 warning 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 have an eviction 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 renter’s deposit within 20 days. 
  • Provide proper notice to a renter before terminating their periodic agreement. 
  • Provide a renter with proper notice prior to increasing their rent. 
  • Abide by the state’s anti-housing discrimination laws. 
  • Provide a renter with a two-day notice prior to entering their rented premises. 
  • Provide a renter with the aforementioned disclosures.
A landlord looking at a lease agreement with a family

Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Laws: An Overview

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

Rhode Island landlords must respect their renters’ peace and follow proper procedures. Before entering your tenants’ 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 housing 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 against housing discrimination based on domestic abuse victim status, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, and age.

This protects tenants from things like landlord retaliation.

3. Security Deposit Laws

Landlords in Rhode Island have a responsibility to follow procedures outlined in 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 (for furnished properties, an additional one month’s rent can be requested). Disputes surrounding security deposit law are handled in Small Claims Court.

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 renter can exercise their right to “repair and deduct.” 

5. Rhode Island Tenant’s Right 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. 

Bottom Line

If you have any other questions about Rhode Island landlord-tenant law 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 or law firm in your state. 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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