Rhode Island Renters Laws

By Pamela Parker
Rhode Island renters laws stipulate the rights and obligations of renters and landlords.
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The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act establishes the rights of tenants and landlords in Rhode Island. The tenant and landlord must abide by the rules of law when creating a rental agreement. The Landlord and Tenant Act covers various aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, such as the responsibilities of both parties, the proper way to enforce termination or eviction and remedies available to either party.

Terms of Rental Agreements

Terms of an agreement should state the length of the rental term, the amount of rent and dates when payments are due, as well as the rights and obligations of both tenant and landlord. The rental period may be on a weekly, monthly, semi-annual or yearly basis. An oral contract is enforceable upon the landlord's receipt of the rental payment. A written contract is enforceable when the tenant pays rent and occupies the premises.

Tenant Obligations

The tenant is required to occupy and use the rental unit in a reasonable manner. Any willful or negligent destruction by the tenant to the premises will be the tenant's responsibility. The tenant should notify the landlord or manager of any damage or code violations to the rental unit or in the common areas. The tenant cannot use the rental unit or building to engage in illegal activities.

Landlord Obligations

The landlord is obligated to keep the rental unit and common areas of the building in a habitable condition and in compliance with the Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code. The landlord is responsible for all major and minor repairs to the building. The landlord must provide contact information for the person who is responsible for managing the premises.

Terminating Tenancy

To terminate the tenancy, the party who wants to end the contract must send written notice to the other party via first-class mail. The notice must be mailed more than 10 days before the termination date for a weekly rental. The notice must be mailed more than 30 days before termination for a monthly rental period. A party with a yearly contract must mail the notice more than three months before the contract expires.


Landlords and tenants are free to negotiate the terms of their contracts but it is illegal for either party to waive the rights, remedies or responsibilities relegated by law. Throughout the landlord-tenant relationship, both parties are required to act in good faith. If a court of law determines that a provision of the contract is unconscionable, it will not be enforced and the damaged party may receive the appropriate remedy.

About the Author

Pamela Parker became a freelance writer in 2009. She has worked in bankruptcy law since 2007. She writes extensively on bankruptcy and financial topics, with her work appearing on various websites. Parker has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.