Rhode Island Security Deposit Law for Landlords and Tenants
Under Rhode Island law, a landlord is permitted to ask for a security deposit that is equal to one month of rent that they charge for that property. If an apartment rents for $600, then the security deposit maximum is also $600. Here are some of the other key points about the security deposit laws in Rhode Island you'll want to know.
1. A Tenant Can Demand Their Security Deposit Back In Full For Defects.
If a tenant discovers major defects with an apartment and decides not to take possession of it, then they can demand their security deposit and any prepaid rent back in full. This can also be done immediately after a tenant moves in based on their inspection, but requires a 5 day written notice to the landlord.
2. A Security Deposit Must Be Returned Within 20 Days.
Landlords are required to return a security deposit if they are given a new mailing address within 20 days. An itemized list of any claims against the security deposit must be included. If the landlord does not receive a forwarding address, the 20 day deadline for return does not begin.
3. Tenants Must Sue In Small Claims Court For Amounts They Feel Are Due To Them.
If a tenant prevails in court on a security deposit claim, then a landlord has 2 days to file an appeal. The appeal is heard before the Superior Court instead of the small claims court. Tenants can then file for an execution paper to have the landlord served. Tenants also have the ability to pursue the garnishment of wages and other asset seizures if a landlord refuses to return an ordered amount.
4. Tenants Can Pursue 2x The Amount Improperly Withheld.
Tenants are allowed to recover up to double the amount of a security deposit with reasonable attorney fees if a judge rules that a landlord has improperly withheld funds.
5. All Demands Must Be Made In Writing.
For either party, a written demand is required. Oral notifications may also be considered binding, but only if both parties agree that a verbal agreement was reached.
The Rhode Island security deposit laws are intended to help both landlords and tenants make sure that their best interests are protected. For further questions about your specific situation, be sure to speak with a legal advisor or look at the specific statutes under RI law for more help.
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