The Rhode Island landlord tenant law was enacted in 1987 to protect the rights of tenants and landlords and to set the obligations that each has to the other. LandLordStation.com offers information regarding the rights each party under this law as part of the State’s consumer protection codes. The provisions of the RI landlord tenant laws conform to general landlord and tenant laws as clarified, or amended by, the Rhode Island legislature.
There is a helpful handbook pertaining to Rhode Island law that is provided by the State Department of Administration. The following highlights some of the provisions of the handbook. These are general provisions of the landlord tenant laws Rhode Island has enacted. This should not be considered a complete list but are a representative sample:
Notices to both the landlord and the tenant must be given by certified or registered mail in order to show proof of service.
The terms of a rental agreement or lease agreement must contain the following provisions:
a) Rent shall be paid pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement.
b) The term of the tenancy shall be set out in lease agreement. In the absence of a Lease Agreement, tenancy shall be month-to-month.
c) The landlord may pay the utilities on the property and the tenant may reimburse the landlord, or the tenant may pay a public utility company by creating an individual account.
d) Any security or other form of deposit shall be maintained by the landlord and the amount and specific terms regarding the deposit shall be listed in the Lease Agreement.
There are some prohibited acts listed in RI landlord tenant law that are designed to protect both the tenant and the landlord. A few of these acts are listed below, but this is not a complete list:
• A tenant may not agree to waive, or forego, any of the rights and remedies listed in Rhode Island law.
• A tenant may not agree to pay the landlord’s attorney fees unless said fees are ordered by the court.
• A landlord may not violate a tenant’s right to summon a peace officer, or any other emergency assistance, in response to an emergency on the property.
• A tenant shall not be bound by any provisions of a lease agreement containing provisions known by the landlord to be prohibited. Up to 2 months’ rent can be awarded to the tenant in this event.
• A landlord may not knowingly refuse to rent to any person for the reason that said person has a child, or children, nor may he or she advertise any restriction due to the tenant having children. However, a landlord may refuse to rent a dwelling unit if the number of residents would exceed 2 occupants per bedroom.
• A tenant must be allowed to terminate a lease early without penalty if the tenant provides written notice that he or she is a victim of domestic violence as defined in Rhode Island or Federal law. A tenant must provide landlord with one of the following: a copy of a Protective Order issued because of domestic violence, or a copy of a written law enforcement agency investigative report of one or more instances of domestic violence involving the tenant. If the tenant chooses to stay in the rental unit after domestic violence incidents have occurred, the tenant can require that the landlord install a new lock to the tenant’s dwelling, if the tenant pays for the cost of installing the new lock.
• For multi-family dwellings, the landlord must provide written information regarding bedbugs. A tenant shall not move infested items into the rental dwelling. If the tenant finds infestation upon taking possession of the dwelling, the landlord must pay for fumigation and removal of the bedbug infestation.
The information provided in this article is meant to give landlords and tenants in the state of Rhode Island a better understanding of the Rhode Island landlord tenant law. For additional information regarding this act, or to see a copy of this act, visit the website of the State of Rhode Island. If you have additional questions or have a landlord or tenant issue, consult an attorney for legal advice. All of the laws pertaining to landlords and tenants can change from time to time so be sure you have the latest information.
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