The purpose of this whole rental business plan is making a profit off of rent, so one should always know the regulations surrounding rent and utilities payment. The following sections cover what you should know to stay in line with the law in Rhode Island.
Rent is generally due on the first business day of the month (unless otherwise agreed upon in the lease). A rent collection statute that makes Rhode Island a bit different is when the landlord accepts rent with the knowledge of a default by the tenant under the agreement or of any performance that varies from the agreement terms; accepting rent in this situation constitutes as a waiver of the landlord’s ability to terminate the tenancy, unless the landlord gives written notice within 10 days. Acceptance of partial rent does not, however, constitute as a waiver of the balance due, nor does acceptance of the full rent waive the landlord’s right to seek remedies for the default.
If the tenant fails to pay rent by the fifth day after rent is due, then the landlord may require a late fee from the tenant. In addition, if the payment offered by the tenant for rent or any other amount due under the lease agreement is returned for lack of sufficient funds, a stop payment, or any other reason, the landlord may require an insufficient funds fee. Neither of these fees have a cap amount; however, most landlords calculate these fees based on the administrative costs to rectify these situations.
Payment for utilities are prearranged in the lease agreement for each party. Within 3 business days, the tenant is responsible for arranging for each utility that he or she must pay and for billing directly to themselves.
Rhode Island has remedies for tenants whose landlords fail to provide essential services, which are defined as: heat, running water, hot water, electric, or gas. If the landlord fails to provide any of these services and the tenant has provided notice to the landlord to rectify it, the tenant may:
- take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure reasonable amounts of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, and other essential service during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable costs from the periodic rent;
- recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the premises; or
- procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance.
In addition to the remedy, the tenant may also recover the actual and reasonable cost or fair and reasonable value of the substitute housing, which may not exceed the original rental amount, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees. This essential services remedy is covered under the Rhode Island General Laws § 34-18-31.