Rhode Island Rental Laws

Written on August 6, 2015 by , updated on November 1, 2017

Rhode IslandThis article summarizes some key Rhode Island rental laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: Not to exceed one month’s rent (§ 34-18-19(a))
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statute
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Pet Deposits: No statute
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Within 20 days after the later of either termination of the tenancy, delivery of possession, or the tenant’s providing the landlord with a forwarding address for the purpose of receiving the security deposit. (§ 34-18-19(b))
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit:
    • To cover unpaid rent that is due;
    • To cover the amount of physical damages to the premises, other than ordinary wear and tear, due to the tenant’s noncompliance with their obligations to maintain the unit. ( § 34-18-19(b))
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (§ 34-18-19(b))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute
  • Receipt of Deposit: No statute
  • Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to comply with the rules for returning the security deposit, the tenant may recover the amount due together with damages twice the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorney fees. (§ 34-18-19(c))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Is Due: As agreed to in the lease. If there is no agreement, rent is paid at the beginning of the month. (§ 34-18-15(c))
  • Rent Increase Notice: 30-day notice required prior to the effective date of the increase. For month-to-month tenants over the age of 62, 60-day notice is required. (§ 34-18-16.1)
  • Rent Grace Period: No statute
  • Late Fees: No statute
  • Prepaid Rent: Prepaid rent for a period after the effective date of the termination of the lease shall be refunded within 30 days. (§ 34-18-15(5))
  • Returned Check Fees: If amount demanded is not paid within 30 days of receipt of notice demanding payment, check writer is liable for the amount of the check, plus a $25 collection fee, plus three times the amount of the check, but in no case less than $200 and in no case more than $1,000. (§ 6-42-3)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, tenant may take reasonable measures to secure reasonable amounts of the essential service and deduct their actual and reasonable costs from the rent. See statute for other provisions. (§ 34-18-31)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Allowed if the reasonable cost of repairs is less than $125, and the condition was not caused by the tenant’s or tenant’s family’s deliberate or negligent action or inaction. Tenant must notify landlord of their intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense, after which the landlord has 20 days to remedy or demonstrate ongoing, good faith efforts to comply. Tenant must submit an itemized statement of all costs for the repair. (§ 34-18-30)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: In an eviction for holding over after the termination or expiration of tenancy where the tenant’s holdover is willful and not in good faith, landlord is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees. (§ 34-18-38)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (§ 34-18-40)
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: Not allowed, but upon vacating the premises tenant would still be responsible for any unpaid rent, taxes, summonses, or other obligations in accordance with the lease terms, including reasonable charges for excess wear. (§ 34-18-15(4) )

Notices and Entry:

  • Rhode Island Notice and Complaint Forms: (§ 34-18-56)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Notice not required as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: 3-month notice prior to the expiration of the occupation year (§ 34-18-37(c))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 30-day notice before the date specified in the notice. (§ 34-18-37(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 10-day written notice before the termination date specified in the notice (§ 34-18-37(a))
  • Termination of Tenancy with 24 Hours Notice: Landlord may file for immediate eviction without notice if the renter violates the statutory tenant’s duties relating to drugs or violent crime, or has been charged with violating a municipal ordinance or has violated the terms of the lease pertaining to legal occupancy or excessive noise or other disturbance of the peace. (§ 34-18-36(f))
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Notice of Failure to Maintain: If the tenant fails to maintain the premises in compliance with § 34-18-24 and that affects health and safety, and the problem can be fixed by repair, replacement of a damaged item, or cleaning, the landlord may give 20-day notice specifying the breach and requesting remedy. If tenant does not remedy, landlord may enter and remedy the problem in a skilled manner and submit an itemized bill to the tenant, due as rent on the next day rent is due. (§ 34-18-39)
  • Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: Five-day written notice before lease is terminated, may be given when rent is late 15 days. Eviction can commence no earlier than the sixth day after mailing of the written notice. (§ 34-18-35)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: If tenant fails to comply with the terms of the lease or materially affects the health and safety of the premises, landlord may give notice that the lease will terminate after 20 days. The tenant may remedy the breach and avoid lease termination, unless the breach was related to drugs, violence or criminal behavior. The tenant has 20 days from being notified to file their answer to the landlord’s complaint, and if they don’t a default judgment is entered against them. If the same type of noncompliance happens again within six months of a prior notice, landlord may terminate the lease with 20-day written notice, and tenant isn’t allowed to remedy. (§ 34-18-36)
  • Termination Before Entering Assisted Living Facility: A tenant who is 65 years of age or older may terminate a rental agreement in order to enter an assisted living or nursing facility or public housing complex designated by the federal government as housing for the elderly. Termination is effective no earlier than 45 days after the first rental payment due date following delivery of written notice of termination. (§ 34-18-15(e))
  • Required Notice before Entry: At least two-day notice, and entry is allowed only at a reasonable time. (§ 34-18-26(c))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§ 34-18-26(a))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§ 34-18-26(a))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (§ 34-18-26(b))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Allowed if reasonably necessary for the protection of the property. (§ 34-18-26(b))
  • Noticed Required Before Tenant’s Extended Absence: The rental agreement may require that the tenant notify the landlord of any anticipated extended absence from the premises longer than 10 days no later than the first day of the extended absence. (§ 34-18-27)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No. See § 34-18-34 for tenant’s remedies if lockout is attempted. (§ 34-18-34)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. See § 34-18-34 for tenant’s remedies if diminution of services is attempted. (§ 34-18-34)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: Landlord shall disclose to the tenant in writing the name, address and number of the authorized property manager as well as that of the property owner or representative of the owner for the purpose of service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands. (§ 34-18-20)
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute
  • Landlord’s Duty to Notify of Code Violation: If the landlord is cited for a housing code violation, the landlord shall within 30 days of receipt of the notice deliver a copy of the notice to each tenant in the affected building, unless the violation is corrected within that 30-day period. Prior to entering into a rental agreement, the landlord shall inform prospective tenants of any outstanding housing code violations on the building. (§ 34-18-22.1)
  • Domestic Violence Situations:
    • Protection from Termination: Landlord cannot terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement with a victim of domestic violence.(§ 34-37-1)
  • Landlord’s Duties: (§ 34-18-22)
    • Compliance: Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
    • Repairs: Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
    • Maintenance: Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied; and
    • Garbage: Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of garbage incidental to occupancy of the unit; and
    • Running Water and Heat: Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat between October 1 and May 1 except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (§ 34-18-24)
    • Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep the premises that tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
    • Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
    • Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with tenant consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
    • Narcotics Nuisance: Refrain from using the premises in a manner that would constitute the maintaining of a narcotics nuisance under § 21-28-4.06.
    • Controlled Substance Activities: Refrain from using any part of the premises or any adjacent public property for the manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance or from possessing with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance.
    • Crimes of Violence: Refrain from any crime of violence, or attempt, on the premises or on any adjacent public property, including murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, sexual assault, mayhem, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault or battery involving grave bodily injury, and a felony assault with intent to commit any offense.
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not raise the rent, reduce services, file for eviction or threaten to evict the tenant for complaining to the landlord about the landlord’s failure to maintain premises, or to a government agency about housing code violations relating to health and safety, organized or become a member of a tenant’s union, or exercised any other lawful right or remedy. Read § 34-18-46 for further provisions.
  • Landlord to Pay Moving Costs for Non-compliant Housing: If the landlord rents out a unit that is not compliant with applicable zoning or minimum housing codes, the landlord must pay the moving costs (to a place within the same city or town) of any tenants required to move because of the nonconformity of the apartment with the law. (§ 34-18-22.2)
  • Lead Disclosure:  Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No statewide statute regarding business licenses, but anyone leasing property in the cities of Providence or Warwick must register their name, address and telephone number with the city clerk in the city where such property is located. (§ 34-18-57)
Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources
  Laws & Regulations

26 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Lucas

    Wow, this is awesome. Thank you for putting this together Joe!

  • steve

    hello, i rent a house in scituate RI. my landlord lives in another state several hundred miles away. i was contacted by a bank realtor that my landlord was putting house on market..for sale a week later he came in to look at property, a week after that, had clients over to see house. and last week told me they were in contract to sell house. waiting on inspector to look at the property… my question is, isnt my landlord supposed to notify me my mail. about this.? my lease runs out in Oct,1st.. the broker told us the people buying house will take over Oct. 1st.. now i gotta move. .. i cant pay rent and pay the cost to move {first and security}. in 2 months.. what are my options? ive looked everywhere.. please help.. thank you Steve.

  • Danielle morrissey

    Hi – i am buying a property where there is an existing lease through 2018. The seller lawyer says this lease should continue into then, even after my purchase. The tenant wants to re-negotiate and i do not.

    What is the law? Thanks

  • Devon

    So for the past few weeks my landlord has been giving me issues about my gun signs. I have a sign by each door one saying “nothing here is worth dying for” with a gun, and another days, “prayer is the best way to meet God but trespassing is faster” with a gun, now Going off of my 1st and 2nd amendment I’m cimolelty protected, but anything as a tenant that would effect this? My landlord has gotten to the point of opening my door and removing it (both signs are inside my wondow).

  • crystal

    I received a five day demand. The notice is dated for the 10th of May. I received it in mail on the 17th, it was mailed the 16th. I want to know is this notice valid because its dated for a week prior to when it was even mailed. Any advise would be great I need to stall because my new place isn’t ready to move into yet

    • David

      Reading your situation, you should probably pay the landlord the money you owe. The reason these things get mailed is because you are not paying the rent as you agreed. How dare they expect money while you’re living there, that’s ridiculous? Don’t they understand who you are, Crystal, and that you need to stall because you’re waiting for a different place to live? That’s just totally unfair, girl! You should show that landlord who’s boss, by angrily mailing them the money you owe (plus interest and late fees to further insult them!). You deserve that justice! In fact, the landlord will probably ask…no, BEG you to stay, because ALL landlords want a tenant like you Crystal. You go, girl!

  • Tammy Rowland

    I have section 8 in RI West Warwick my oven doesn’t work heats not on stairs outside was worked on but no railing was put up towards a 19 foot drop what can I do? I was told there would be a parking in back yard so I wouldn’t have to use stairs NOT even attempted what’s my rights?

  • David

    Hello, I am currently renting in providence,RI. There was never any lease signed, nor brought to my attention when I moved in. The real problem, is that the landlord didn’t mention a massive roach infestation, that was present before I moved in, which I hadn’t noticed when I moved in. How do I go about handling this? I am currently not in a financial situation where I can just up and move, and I am very unclear about how the laws surrounding this subject work. PLEASE HELP. I can be reached at the email I provided, dvanasse95@gmail.com

    • Sheldon Liner

      There is a similar non disclosure problem, but involving a mouse infestation in a Rhode Island apartment discovered within days of signing a 1 year lease and after moving in. The landlord did not respond to a message requesting an immediate Exterminator. Mice can be heard inside the walls and mouse droppings are visible throughout the house. Unable to sleep due to fear of rodents entering the bed, biting and disease. Can lease be terminated without tenant liability? What Notices arerequired and laws?

    • Sheldon Liner

      There is a similar problem, involving a mouse infestation in a Rhode Island apartment discovered within days of signing a 1 year lease and after moving in. The landlord did not respond to a message requesting an immediate Exterminator. Mice can be heard inside the walls and mouse droppings are visible throughout the house. Unable to sleep due to fear of rodents entering the bed, biting and disease. Can lease be terminated without tenant liability? What Notices arerequired and laws?

    • Sheldon Liner

      There is a similar problem, involving a mouse infestation in a Rhode Island apartment discovered within days of signing a 1 year lease and after moving in. The landlord did not respond to a message requesting an immediate Exterminator. Mice can be heard inside the walls and mouse droppings are visible throughout the house. Unable to sleep due to fear of rodents entering the bed, biting and disease. Can lease be terminated without tenant liability? What Notices are required and laws?

    • Sheldon Liner

      A mouse infestation in a Rhode Island apartment was discovered within days of signing a 1 year lease and after moving in. The landlord did not respond to a message requesting an immediate Exterminator. Mice can be heard inside the walls and mouse droppings are visible throughout the house. Unable to sleep due to fear of rodents entering the bed, biting and disease. Can lease be terminated without tenant liability? What Notices are required and laws?

  • Katie

    Is it illegal to rent a room if my landlord was ok with it? The neighbors complained to the town of johnston
    They want to do an inspection

  • J.J

    Ques-Can the landlord legally raise the late fee on rent from $50 to $200 on a $1000 month rental…If yes, what kind of notice is required…and the landlord lives in cincinnati…

  • Joachim Hodara

    Hi, do you have a reference for this part?

    Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Notice not required as the lease simply expires.

    I sent a notice to vacate 29 days before the prescribed end date of my fixed end date yearly lease. My landlord says I should have given a 30-day notice, and is charging for the extra month.

  • Grace

    I live in Cranston RI, currently i rent. wanted to know if there are restrictions and what are the fees for having pets .

  • Brian

    My daughter rented a room in North Providence and moved out because someone renting the room next to her was making and selling alcohol in the building. The landlord said she violated the lease when she moved out before the 1 year lease term. She has been harassed on numerous occasions regarding rent they say she owes for the time the room was vacant. How long does the landlord have to file a motion in civil court regarding this issue? It has been over 2 years.

  • Wayne A

    After living at my apartment for 8 years I asked to get a puppy the landlord demanded a $300 security deposit on top of the month security deposit I have now is that legal

  • JM

    I have a tenant whom originally occupied the apt with his mother. Now they have his girlfriend whom is expecting residing in the premises as well, without notice to me.
    I will be drawing up lease since at first it was a verbal agreement and since tenant has been late once on his rent which security deposit will cover that month and is currently late on this month I want to have something in writing to cover myself as landlord, however, could I increase the rent for additional person if so how much is an average amount?

  • Judy

    Can a n apartment managet require me to habe my possrssions examinef by an exterminator. Prior to moving in.

  • Rhode Island

    If we lived in a 3 appt housing building an a fire took everything including the home an there was no smoke detectors that went off no fire extinguishers in the appt it started in an my opinion housing was supposed to inspect every year were we was an she did not for over 2 years she had hospital issue an couldn’t make it up the stairs an so they never did an inspection for 2 years or so the landlord never sent anyone over 16 years to look or install an fire equipment an it’s not something a renter thinks of to this happens we lost everything an are starting over it’s been rough an will be for sone years i belive .
    Just like some info if think fault is anywhere was accidental electric 2 am.
    Thsnk you

  • nliberty

    What is considered a guest vs a tenant? I cannot find citation of Rhode Island rental laws/guidelines which define the number of days a guest can stay before they are determined to legally be “tenants”.

    I understand if the person uses the rental as their mailing address that alters the status, but not duration of the stay.

  • Catarina Rodriguez

    Hello I live inProvidence and I moved into this apartment two months ago. Me my husband and three toddlers. The landlord she is going to sell the house. She had my husband sign a paper supposedly saying the tenants have the right to stay in the property. But the new landlords can increase the rent right? And how long do we have to move out if we have to?

  • Jperrotti

    RI Laws upon long term stay as tenant at Extended Stay hotel. Long term stay almost 8 months and was given same day notice to leave by voicemail never been a problem or issue etc. what are the laws in regards to tenancy rights (Transient) at extended stay hotel under any terms of law.
    I was told they need to provide notice due to time of living as a tenant. Does the RI law protect you as a tenant when hotel is in use for long term stay as tenants and do they have to provide notices to leave for any reason or so many days. I was told by a hotel down rd that they by law have to give a notice and demand if it’s for money or. Not that they can’t just terminate stay because anything over 30 days is considered landlord tenant. Can you clarify

  • nicholas j DeVeno

    SO about a month and a half ago my landlord approached me and said you know your year lease is up on March first, you going to do another year? I said sure yeah. He then left another years lease for me to sign. so i looked it over, he raised the rent 10$ more a month and wrote in manually that i had permission to put a few totes in the basement for storage. So i put my initials next to all of his and put it in his box. 2 mo later two weeks into the new lease and upped rent he says im not renewing. I said we signed it 2 mo ago you cashed the new amount rent check. he said i never signed it. i said you didnt last year either. we have a written and verbal lease. he said, be out may. i owe nothing. never late. do i have rights? Is this legal?

  • Eamon

    Hi my Question is when I turn off my main breaker and I go outside and check the meter the meter is still running does that mean that someone else’s. Is hooked up to my meter

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.