Rhode Island Residential Lease Agreement

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The Rhode Island residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a document that outlines the terms and conditions of the residential use of real estate in exchange for rent payments. The contract includes the length of the agreement (” lease term”), payment amount (”rent”), and the obligations of both landlord and tenant.

Rhode Island Lease Disclosures & Addendums

The following disclosures or addendums are either required for some or all residential lease agreements in Rhode Island.

There are also a number of optional disclosures and addendums that help reduce future conflicts and/or legal liability in Rhode Island.

Landlord’s Name & Address

Applicable to all rental units in Rhode Island.

So that future legal notices and demands sent by the tenant can be properly delivered to the landlord, the name and address of either the landlord or the person authorized to act on the landlord’s behalf must be disclosed up-front (commonly done so in the lease agreement) .

Housing Code Violation Notice

Applicable to any property with an outstanding housing code violation.

Before entering a lease with a prospective tenant, Rhode Island landlords must disclose any outstanding housing violations that exist in the same building as the unit for rent .

Landlords can provide a copy of the violation to satisfy this requirement.

Lead Based Paint Disclosure

Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.

It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in Rhode Island to:

  • Fill out and attach this lead based paint disclosure form to the lease agreement.
  • Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint.
  • Provide additional records or reports about the presence or hazards of any known lead based paint in the unit. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.

Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by Rhode Island law in residential lease agreements, but either help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.

  • Medical Marijuana Use – it is recommended to state where medical marijuana use is and isn’t allowed on the property so that expectations are clear. Rhode Island law allows landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or control where users can smoke so as to not interfere with other tenants.
  • Move-in Checklist – it is recommended to provide an itemized list of damages to the property before move-in to make sure tenants are responsible for any serious damages that occur during the lease term. This can be attached to the lease agreement or signed as a separate document.
  • Late and Returned Check Fees – it is recommended that landlords disclose in the lease any late fees or returned (bounced) check fees that they intend to charge. Rhode Island does not limit how high these fees can be, but they should be considered reasonable (often no more than 10% of rent) and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. They must also be charged only after the agreed upon due date for rent, dictated in the lease. Returned check fees are limited to $25 per bad check, and if the balance still has not been paid within 30 days after notice is received, the tenant is subject to an additional three (3) times the balance owed in damages .
  • Shared Utilities Arrangements – for rental units with shared utilities, it is recommended to disclose the specifics of how they are shared, and how each party’s bill is calculated, so that tenants have a reasonable expectation of what they owe each month.
  • Bed Bug Disclosure – for rental units with a history of infestation, it is recommended to establish an understanding of the current status of bed bugs at the property in case of a future infestation and to provide information on the protocol for handling one.
  • Asbestos Disclosure – for rental units in buildings built prior to 1981 (which are considered at-risk for asbestos), it is recommended to establish an understanding of any prior knowledge on the existence of asbestos on the property.
  • Mold Disclosure – it is recommended to disclose the current mold status of a property in the lease to protect against future liability of mold damages due to tenant negligence during the lease term.