Most residential leases and rental agreements in Rhode Island require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Rhode Island law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Rhode Island landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month's rent for the security deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Rhode Island for returning a security deposit?
Under Rhode Island law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 20 days after the tenant has moved out.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Rhode Island landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Rhode Island?
Not at the state level in Rhode Island. But be sure to check your local (county, city, or town) laws to see if your municipality requires your landlord to take additional steps when it comes to your security deposit.
Where can I look up Rhode Island law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Rhode Island law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Rhode Island General Laws § 34-18-19. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Rhode Island. For tips on looking up Rhode Island state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at http://brown.edu/Administration/Auxiliary_Housing/documents/LTHandbook.pdf.