Rhode Island Rental Laws – An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights

Relationships between landlords and tenants in Rhode Island begin when a landlord and renter sign a lease and are informed by statewide Landlord-Tenant Laws. A Rhode Island rental agreement becomes valid once your tenants pay rent in exchange for occupying a rental property.  

Once the Rhode Island lease is valid, both parties obtain certain rights and responsibilities. As a landlord, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these rights and responsibilities under the Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws. The following is a basic overview of Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law (Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Ch. 18-34). 

Required Landlord Disclosures in Rhode Island 

As a landlord in Rhode Island, the following are the mandatory disclosures you must provide tenants before they begin renting your property.

  • If your Rhode Island rental property was built prior to 1978, you must let your tenant know about any lead-based paint on the premises
  • The names and addresses of the person(s) authorized to manage the Rhode Island unit. 
  • Any outstanding housing code violation. 

Rhode Island Tenant Rights & Responsibilities 

The following are some of the rights a tenant has under Rhode Island landlord-tenant law. A tenant has the right to:

  • Live in a habitable property as per the rental agreement
  • Continue occupying their rented premises until the legal eviction procedure is completed.
  • Receive their security deposit refund within 20 days. 
  • Terminate their tenancy in Rhode Island at any time as long as proper notice is served. 
  • Break the lease without penalty for specific legally justified reasons.
  • Be treated fairly by their landlord as per the Fair Housing Act
  • Be served with a 30-day advance notice before a rent raise.
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The responsibilities that tenants have under Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws include the following. 

  • Maintain the Rhode Island rental and keep it clean, habitable, and safe.
  • Report maintenance issues to the landlord. 
  • Complete minor maintenance tasks, such as replacing a burnt-out bulb.
  • Use all the appliances, fixtures, and facilities in the manner they are meant for. 
  • Care for the rental by not causing negligent or careless property damage. 
  • Respect others’ right to quiet enjoyment. 

Rhode Island Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

The following are some of the fundamental Rhode Island landlord responsibilities and rights under the landlord-tenant laws. A right to:

  • Collect rent as per the lease or rental agreement.
  • Enforce the terms of the rental agreement, such as requiring the tenant to pay their rent. 
  • Evict a tenant for violating any terms of the lease agreement. 
  • Set and increase rent prices.
  • Terminate a periodic lease. 
  • Enter a tenant’s rented unit. 

Some of the responsibilities landlords have under the Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws include the following. 

  • Provide a habitable living space.
  • Follow the state’s eviction laws when evicting a tenant for lease violations.
  • Abide by the state’s security deposit rules.
  • Serve proper notice before terminating a tenant’s periodic lease.
  • Provide Rhode Island tenants with proper notice before a rent raise.
  • Treat tenants fairly per the Fair Housing Act. 
  • Provide tenants with a 2-day notice prior to entering the rental unit. If a landlord fails to do so, it can be troublesome.

An Overview of Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Rental Laws 

Habitability

A Rhode Island tenant has a right to live in habitable housing. This means the Rhode Island landlord must ensure the rental has running hot and cold water and functional electrical, plumbing, and sanitation facilities.

a carpenter in green work gloves uses a power drill to replace a bracket on a shelf in a rental property

A Rhode Island landlord must also ensure that they make repairs within 20 days after notification from the Rhode Island tenant.

Tenant Eviction

Landlords in Rhode Island are able to evict tenants for a number of reasons. These include non-payment of rent, lease violations, or foreclosure of the rental.

However, Rhode Island landlords must follow proper eviction processes, which include serving a proper eviction notice and settling the issue in court if needed. Eviction methods like retaliatory evictions or “self-help” actions are illegal.

Security Deposit Rules

As a Rhode Island landlord, you have a right to collect a security deposit from your tenant. However, you have a responsibility to ensure its collection, handling, and return abides by the state’s security deposit laws. 

The following are some of the security deposit laws in Rhode Island. 

  • The maximum security deposit a landlord can charge a tenant must not exceed one month’s rent. 
  • A Rhode Island landlord must make deductions only for legitimate reasons, such as unpaid rent, cleaning costs, and damage exceeding normal wear and tear. 
  • Rhode Island landlords must return the deposit within 20 days after the tenant moves out. 

Rhode Island Lease Termination

Either the Rhode Island landlord or the tenant in a lease agreement can terminate a periodic lease. The only requirement is that the party wishing to terminate their lease serve the other party a proper notice.

The amount of notice to provide depends on the frequency of rent payments. If the rent is paid weekly, then a 10-day notice is mandatory. If the rent payments are monthly, then a 30-day notice is required. 

Rhode Island tenants in a fixed-term lease can also break their lease under certain legally justified circumstances. These include starting active military duty or age-related health complications. 

Rent Increases

There is no rent control law in Rhode Island. However, Rhode Island law doesn’t prohibit local towns and cities from having their own rent control rules for landlords.

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As such, Rhode Island landlords need to make sure to do their due diligence on what rent control laws their municipality may have.

Bottom Line

It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the Rhode Island landlord-tenant law if renting out a property in any part of the state. If you have a question or need expert help in managing your rentals, reach out to the experts at Lyon Property Management!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Rhode Island laws change and this information may become obsolete at the time you read it. For further help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.