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 rental agreement becomes valid once your tenants pay rent in exchange for occupying a rental property.
Once the lease is valid, both parties obtain certain rights and responsibilities. As a landlord, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these rights and responsibilities.
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 rental property was built prior to 1978, you must let your tenant know about any lead-based paint on the property
- The names and addresses of the person(s) authorized to manage the property.
- Any outstanding housing code violation.
Rhode Island Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
The following are some of the rights a tenant has under Rhode Island state law. A tenant has the right to:
- Live in a habitable property.
- Continue occupying their rented premises until the legal eviction procedure is completed.
- Receive their security deposit refund within 20 days.
- Terminate their tenancy 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.
The responsibilities that Rhode Island tenants have include the following.
- Maintain the 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 property 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. A right to:
- Collect rent as per the lease or rental agreement.
- Enforce the terms of the rental agreement, such as enforcing 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 Rhode Island landlords have 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 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.
An Overview of Landlord-Tenant Rental Laws in Rhode Island
A Rhode Island tenant has a right to live in habitable housing. This means the landlord must ensure the property has running hot and cold water and functional electrical, plumbing, and sanitation facilities.
You must also ensure that you make repairs within 20 days after notification from the tenant.
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 property.
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 landlord must make deductions only for legitimate reasons, such as unpaid rent, cleaning costs, and damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
- Landlords must return the deposit within 20 days after the tenant move out.
Either the 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.
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.
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.
As such, make sure to do your due diligence on what rent control laws your municipality may have.
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 property, reach out to the experts at Lyon Property Management!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. 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.