Looking for clear and concise information on Rhode Island landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Act.
RI Landlord Tenant Law:
The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.
Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)]
For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:
The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.
In addition, Rhode Island landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age or marital status. Victims of domestic violence cannot be discriminated as well.
A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.
The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.
Before entering into a rental agreement, Rhode Island landlord tenant law requires the landlord to disclose the following to the tenant:
Rhode Island landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details [RI 34-18-20]:
According to Rhode Island landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT [RI 34-18-17]:
Rhode Island landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit. [RI 34-18-19.(a)]
There are no Rhode Island landlord tenant statutes on security deposit holding methods and security deposit interest.
Rhode Island landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Rhode Island landlord tenant law) include [RI 34-18-19.(b)]:
The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.
Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 20 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.
If the landlord fails to follow Rhode Island landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to two times the deposit amount that was wrongfully withheld plus attorney fees. [RI 34-18-19.(c)]
Once the property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit or prepaid rent to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. [RI 34-18-23]
The previous owner (and property manager) will no longer be responsible for the tenancy once he or she informs the tenant of the new owner's (and property manager's) name, address and phone number. [RI 34-18-23]
Providence, Rhode Island RI
The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.
By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid at the start of the month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property. [RI 34-18-15.(c)]
There are no Rhode Island landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments or bounced checks.
If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.
Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.
According to the Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord has to inform the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. If the tenant is over 62 years old, the landlord has to inform him or her at least 60 days in advance. [RI 34-18-16.1]
For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.
The Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [RI 34-18-22]:
Rhode Island landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [RI 34-18-24]:
If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord 20 days to fix it. [RI 34-18-30]
landlord fails to fix the problem within 20 days and the defect can be
repaired for less than $125, the tenant can make the repairs and deduct
the cost from rent. After repairs are made, the tenant has to submit an
itemized statement to the landlord.
If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant may give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and do ONE of the following [RI 34-18-31]:
In addition, the tenant can recover attorney fees from the landlord as well.
According to Rhode Island landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons [RI 34-18-26]:
In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least two days in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours. [RI 34-18-26.(c)]
According to Rhode Island landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations [RI 34-18-26.(b)]:
The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. [RI 34-18-45.(a)] Otherwise the landlord can EITHER
In addition, the landlord can also sue the tenant for actual damages PLUS court costs and attorney fees. [RI 34-18-45.(c)]
The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property. [RI 34-18-34.(b)] If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER
In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for actual damages PLUS court costs and attorney fees.
There are no specific Rhode Island landlord tenant laws on subletting.
We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:
Pawtucket, Rhode Island RI
Before terminating a tenancy, Rhode Island landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [RI 34-18-37]:
Week to week tenancy
Month to month tenancy
Year to year tenancy
If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:
Tenant is 65 years or older and moving to a care facility or elderly housing
Tenant is deployed in the armed forces
Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident
If the tenant is 65 years or older, he or she can terminate the rental agreement to move to an assisted living facility, nursing facility or elderly housing.
The tenant must give the landlord a written notice to quit at least 45 days in advance. This notice must include a document of admission for the care facility or elderly housing. [RI 34-18-15.(e)]
Rhode Island landlord tenant law allows a service member or service member's dependent to terminate the tenancy agreement if ONE of the following conditions is met [RI 34-18-15.(f)]:
The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit AND a copy of the military orders. [RI 34-18-15.(f)(1)(iii)]
If tenant is paying rent every month, the lease shall be terminated 30 days after the next rent due date (e.g. If the tenant gives notice to quit on 10 Jan and rent is due on 15 Jan, then the lease shall terminate on 15 Feb).
For all other types of tenancy, the lease shall be terminated on the last of NEXT month (e.g. If the tenant gives notice to quit on 10 Jan, then the lease shall terminate on 28 Feb).
In this case, the landlord has to return all security deposits and prepaid rents (after deductions) to the tenant. The service member will have to pay (pro-rated) rent up to the termination date.
If the property is badly damaged by fire, disaster or unavoidable
accident (that is no fault of the tenant or related people), the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent.
The tenancy shall terminate once the tenant moves out. The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate
the tenancy within 14 days of moving out. [RI 34-18-33]
After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.
If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.
According to Rhode Island landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:
Tenant did not pay rent
5 days (See below)
Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties
If rent payment is late for 15 or more days, the landlord can send the tenant a five day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within five days. [RI 34-18-35]
If the rent is paid within five days, then tenancy shall continue. If rent isn't paid within five days, the landlord can file an eviction action ("Complaint for Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent") against the tenant.
If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a 20 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. *Significant manner refers to situations that affects human health and safety. [RI 34-18-36]
Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Rhode Island landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a 20 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.
This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 20 days, then the tenancy shall continue.
However if the tenant violates the tenancy agreement (or fails in his or her duty) in a similar manner within six months, the landlord can evict the tenant by sending him or her a written 20 day notice. In this case, the tenant must move out.
According to Rhode Island landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing. [RI 34-18-44]
If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant can EITHER
In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord for up to three month's rent or three times actual damages (whichever is more) PLUS attorney fees. [RI 34-18-34]
If the landlord believes that the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord shall send a certified letter (return receipt requested) to the tenant's last known address. This letter must state that the landlord shall re-rent the property unless the tenant replies within seven days. If the tenant fails to reply within seven days, the landlord can re-rent the property. [RI 34-18-40]
As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is moving in before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in.
Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Law: Rhode Island Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Handbook: The Rhode Island Landlord Tenant Handbook