Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Laws

A summary of Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.

Required Disclosures (by Landlords)

Contact Information: Landlord must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving notices and demands. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-18-20)

Code Violations: Before entering into any residential rental agreement, landlord must inform a prospective tenant of any outstanding minimum housing code violations which exist on the building that is the subject of the rental agreement. (R.I. Gen. Laws §34-18-22.1)

Foreclosure: A landlord who becomes delinquent on a mortgage securing real estate upon which the rental is located for a period of 120 days must notify the tenant that the property may be subject to foreclosure; and until the foreclosure occurs, the tenant must continue to pay rent to the landlord as provided under the rental agreement.

Security Deposit Limit

Up to one month’s rent may collected for the security deposit.

Deadline for Returning Security Deposit

The landlord has 20 days to give back the tenant’s security deposit.

Small Claims Lawsuits

Small claims courts in Rhode Island will only hear cases up to $2,500.

Late Fees

Rhode Island laws do not cover late fees, so it’s up to what the lease says.

Increasing Rent

Month-to-month agreements require at least a 30 day written notice to raise the rent. Rental agreements of a longer duration dictate the terms and any future changes regarding tenancy.

Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent

In limited situations of landlord neglect, a tenant has the authority to withhold rent if necessary repairs are not made in a timely manner according to Rhode Island Gen. Laws § 34-18-32. As an alternative, a tenant may also repair landlord neglected problems and then deduct the cost from the monthly rent payment as outlined in Rhode Island Gen. Laws §§ 34-18-30 to-31.

Termination and Eviction

R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-18-36(e) permits a 20 day unconditional notice to quit for any repeated act which violates the lease or rental agreement or affects health or safety twice within 6 months (notice must have been given for the first violation)

R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 34-18-24, 34-18-36(f) authorizes the use of an immediate notice to quit for any tenant who possesses, uses, or sells illegal drugs or who commits or attempts to commit any crime of violence on the premises or in any public space adjacent. “Seasonal tenant” whose lease runs from May 1 to October 15 or from September 1 to June 1 of the next year, with no right of extension or renewal, who has been charged with violating a local occupancy ordinance, making excessive noise, or disturbing the peace.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 34-18-36 gives a tenant 20 days to cure (fix) or quit for any initial material noncompliance.

Access to Property

Before entering, a 2 day advance notice must be given.

Domestic Violence

Rhode Island Gen. Laws § 34¬37-1, -2, -3, -4 prohibits discrimination against victims of domestic violence. Rhode island Gen. Laws § 8-8.1-3 a court may not compel a defendant to vacate a residence if the defendant is the sole legal interest of the residence.

 

Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes

Rhode Island Gen. Laws §§ 34-18-1 to 34-18-57.