Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law

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Rhode Island Renters’ Rights and Landlord Responsibilities

  • Have 20 days to return security deposit
  • A 30-day notice required before raising rent
  • Must give a two-day notice before entering
  • Required to make repairs within a reasonable amount of time

When it comes to Rhode Island rental laws, there are a few specifics landlords need to know:

  1. Security Deposit – Rhode Island limits the amount a landlord may charge for the security deposit to the equivalent of one month’s rent. Landlords must return the deposit within 20 days of the tenant moving out.
  2. Raising Rent – Rhode Island landlords must give 30 days’ notice to increase rent. However, tenants older than 62 on a month-to-month lease must be given 60 days’ notice.
  3. Notice of Entry – Rhode Island requires a two-day notice from the landlord before entering the property, and landlords may only enter during reasonable hours.
  4. Repairs – It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the rental in safe and healthy living conditions. Landlords must make repairs within a reasonable amount of time after being notified by the tenant. If the landlord fails to make repairs within this time frame, tenants may make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from future rent payments or file a complaint with the housing court.

Rental Application Fees

There are no Rhode Island laws regarding application fees.

Criminal Background Check

  • HUD (Federal) laws do not classify criminal backgrounds as a protected class, but making a decision to rent based off a criminal background alone could lead to a discrimination charge as it impacts certain protected groups of people disproportionately.
    • However, if the criminal background check revealed a crime for the manufacture and distribution of drugs, homicide and/or stalking, denying the application is allowed.
  • Landlords should have a consistent and equal policy or procedure in place to follow regarding criminal background checks so as not to discriminate against one class of people over another.
  • HUD states that a landlord cannot ask about arrest records, only convictions, as innocent people are commonly arrested though the situation may not have resulted in a conviction.
  • Some municipalities may have written their own laws expanding onto what you can and cannot ask regarding criminal backgrounds during the tenant screening process.

Repairs

You have 20 days to make repairs once you receive a written notice of an issue from your tenant.

Security Deposit

Rhode Island limits the amount you may charge for the security deposit to the equivalent of one month’s rent. However, if the unit is furnished and has a value over $5,000, you can charge an additional one month’s rent as security deposit.

Lease Agreement Disclosures

If a property has an outstanding housing code violation, Rhode Island landlords must disclose this information to the tenant.

Build a Rhode Island lease agreement in less than 15 minutes.

Rhode Island Lease Agreement Example

There are three sections to a residential lease agreement. The first section outlines the custom details of the contract, such as who’s involved and for what address. Here’s an example Rhode Island lease agreement listing details found in Section 1:

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Rhode Island Landlord-Tenant Law FAQ

Below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to landlord-tenant laws in Rhode Island:

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Can You Withhold Rent in Rhode Island?

The only instance where a tenant may withhold rent is if a landlord fails to make requested repairs. Tenants may pay for the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the following rent payments.

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Rhode Island?

Evicting a tenant in Rhode Island can take anywhere from 1 to 4 months, depending on the reason for eviction.

Is Rhode Island a Landlord-Friendly State?

Rhode Island is a somewhat landlord-friendly state because there are few rent control laws.

What is the Eviction Process in Rhode Island?

There are five reasons a landlord may file for eviction in Rhode Island. Failure to pay rent, violation of the lease agreement, the end of the lease term, foreclosure of the rental unit, and illegal activity. Depending on the violation, the landlord must give the tenant notice and anywhere from 5-30 days to cure their violation.

If the tenant fails to cure or quit, then the landlord may file a complaint with the court, which costs $80. After the complaint is filed, it will be served to the tenant at least five days before the hearing.

After the tenant is served with the summons, they must file an answer within nine to 20 days of receiving the summons. After, the hearing will be scheduled after nine days of the answer being filed.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, then a writ of execution will be issued six days later. The tenant will have a few hours to a few days to move out.

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Have to Give a Tenant to Move Out in Rhode Island?

Landlords must give a 30-day notice before asking a tenant to vacate the property.

Due Diligence and Rhode Island Rental Laws

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TurboTenant has utilized many municipal sources along with official state statutes in order to compile this information to the best of our ability. However, local laws are always in flux, and landlords and tenants alike should do their due diligence and consult legal help when it’s needed. We hope the following list can serve as a valuable resource and allow you to succeed as a landlord or tenant in Rhode Island. Be sure to take proper precautions when it comes to finding the top candidates for your unit by utilizing our online rental application and tenant screening services.

Disclaimer: TurboTenant, Inc does not provide legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. All users are advised to check all applicable local, state, and federal laws, and consult legal counsel should questions arise.

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