Rhode Island Rental Lease Agreements


The Rhode Island Rental Lease Agreements act to formalize an understanding between a landlord and tenant that the former will rent a residential property to the latter. In order for such an arrangement to be established, both parties must agree to follow the lease’s terms. These terms may include such matters as when the landlord can access the property and whether the tenant may keep pets in the rental dwelling.

The most effective way for both parties to prepare for the lease of a property is to read up on relevant landlord-tenant laws. Should any provisions in the lease be found to be in conflict with landlord-tenant laws, the parties should come to a resolution prior to signing the contract.

Types of Agreements

College Roommate (Suitemate) Agreement – A set of written rules developed by college roommates to ensure the smooth running of their dorm room.

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Commercial Lease Agreement – A landlord that will rent their property to a business must make use of a Commercial Lease Agreement for the conditions of the lease to be clearly understood by all parties.

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Lease to Own Agreement – This agreement documents a landlord’s commitment to a tenant that they may purchase the rental property from them so long as certain conditions are met.

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Month-to-Month Lease Agreement – This type of lease requires a shorter period of notice should either party wish to terminate the agreement.

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Roommate Agreement – Used to promote open communication about desired conduct, this agreement streamlines roommate arrangements in a shared household.

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Standard Residential Lease Agreement – A contract that features relevant laws affecting landlords and tenants involved in the lease of a property in the state of Rhode Island.

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Sublease Agreement – Also named a Sublease Contract, this form describes the details by which the original tenant may sublease a rental property to a new tenant.

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What is a Rhode Island Lease Agreement?

A Rhode Island Lease Agreement legally documents the lease of a residential property by a landlord to a tenant. The lease is dependent on a range of provisions being followed by both parties. Prior to signing the lease, landlords should take care to vet prospective tenants by asking them to fill out a rental application form.

State Definition (§ 34-18-11(14)) – “means all agreements, written or oral, and valid rules and regulations adopted under § 34-18-25 embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises, and also includes any terms required by law.”

When is Rent Due?

As set by § 34-18-15(c), rent must be paid “without demand or notice at the time and place agreed upon by the parties.” Unless there is an agreement to the contrary, rent of fixed-term leases is payable in equal monthly installments at the beginning of each month. For terms of one month or less, rent is payable at the beginning of any term. There is no state statute offering a grace period to tenants.

Landlord’s Access

Emergency (§ 34-18-26(b)): Landlords are within their rights to enter the rental dwelling without the consent of the tenant in the case of an emergency. They may also enter without prior consent during any absence of the tenant in excess of seven (7) days if the entry is reasonably necessary for the protection of the dwelling.

Non-Emergency (§ 34-18-26(a)): The landlord may enter the rental dwelling under a range of circumstances, such as inspecting the premises and making necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements. State law does not specify the conditions of non-emergency entry, however, landlords are recommended to provide tenants with at least twenty-four (24) hours notice.

Required Disclosures

  • Code Violations (§ 34-18-22.1): A landlord must deliver a copy of any notice of housing code violation to each residential tenant of the building affected by the said violation within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice. The landlord must also inform a prospective tenant of any outstanding violations prior to entering into any residential rental agreement. That is, unless within that period the landlord has “corrected all violations set forth in the notice of violation to the satisfaction of the state or local minimum housing code enforcement agency which issued the notice of violation.”
  • Foreclosure Notification (§ 34-18-20(d)): If a landlord becomes delinquent on a mortgage securing real estate upon which the rental dwelling is located for a period of one hundred twenty (120) days they must notify the tenant that the property may be subject to foreclosure.
  • Lead Paint Disclosure: If the rental dwelling was built before 1978 and the landlord is aware of any lead paint hazards in the dwelling, they must disclose this information to the tenant. Further to this, the landlord must provide tenants with a brochure that outlines the problem with lead hazards in the home.
  • Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers (§ 34-18-20(a)): The landlord must disclose to the tenant in writing, at or before the commencement of the tenancy, the names, addresses, and numbers of the person authorized to manage the premises as well as the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act on their behalf.

Security Deposit Laws

Maximum (§ 34-18-19(a)): A landlord cannot demand the tenant pay a security deposit that is in excess of one (1) month’s periodic rent.

Returning to Tenant (§ 34-18-19(b)): A landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within twenty (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.

The landlord may deduct from the deposit any amount of unpaid accrued rent, reasonable cleaning expenses, reasonable trash disposal expenses, and the amount of physical damages to the premises, other than ordinary wear and tear. The deductions must be itemized by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant, together with the remainder of the security deposit.