Rhode Island Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: November 25, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

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.

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Rhode Island Lease Agreement Disclosures

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

Disclosure Applicable to
Landlord’s Name/Address All Units
Housing Code Violation Units with Outstanding Housing Violations
Lead Paint All Units Prior to 1978

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.

Any individual authorized to manage the rental property (including the landlord and owner) must disclose their name and address so future legal notices and demands that are sent by the tenant can be properly delivered. Generally, this information is provided in the lease agreement and shall be provided to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy.

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. The notice of violation shall be delivered to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the notice, unless the landlord has corrected all violations in the notice to the requirements of the building code.

Landlords can provide a copy of the violation to satisfy this requirement, along with a disclosure within the lease.

Download: Rhode Island Housing Code Violation Notice Disclosure Form (PDF)

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:

Download: Rhode Island Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form (PDF)

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 provide information on the protocol for handling a bed bug infestation. This addendum will notify the tenant of their obligation to cooperate with bed bug prevention by promptly reporting any sign of infestation to the landlord.
  • Asbestos Disclosure – for rental units built prior to 1981, asbestos was a common building material. This disclosure will notify the tenant to take certain precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers (i.e. no sanding, pounding, modifications or repairs, without the landlord’s consent). The disclosure will also notify the tenant of their obligation to immediately notify the landlord if any ceilings begin to deteriorate.
  • 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 the tenant’s negligence during the lease term.