The following information is taken from The Landlord-Tenant Handbook prepared by the R.I. Department of Administration, Division of Planning. The handbook is a general reference on landlord-tenant relationships based on Rhode Island General Law, Chapter 34-18, entitled the "Residential Landlord and Tenant Act," effective since January1987.
A tenant must comply with required state and local health and safety code standards. The rental unit and shared interior/exterior areas must be kept clean and safe from hazards. The garbage, rubbish, and other wastes must be removed from the unit (as necessary) and disposed of in a proper manner. The plumbing fixtures and facilities must be kept in a clean and satisfactory condition. All electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and other facilities and appliances on the premises must be used in a responsible manner. There must be no deliberate or negligent destruction, defacing, impairment or removal of anything that is attached or otherwise part of the premises. Also, the tenant is responsible for the conduct of family members and visitors in regard to the afore-mentioned situations.
The tenant should: avoid causing noisy or unruly disturbances which may bother other people; bring regular maintenance and major situations to the landlord's attention on an ''as needed" basis; and notify the landlord promptly of any conditions that may cause deterioration of the premises.
Finally, the tenant must not use the premises or adjacent public property for the unlawful manufacture, sale, delivery, use, or keeping of a controlled substance (narcotics); or an attempted or an actual crime of violence, as defined by the law.
Rules and Regulations
The tenant has a legal obligation to abide by lawful rules and regulations concerning the use and occupancy of the premises if properly informed of them at the time the initial rental agreement was made, or upon proper notice thereafter. After entering into a rental agreement, substantial changes in rules or regulations that will have a material effect on the rental cannot be made unless agreed to in writing by the tenant.
Rules and regulations must promote the convenience, safety, and welfare of all tenants; preservation of the property from damage or abuse; and a fair distribution of services and facilities among tenants.
Access to Apartment by Landlord
A landlord must give a minimum two-day verbal or written notice when needing to enter a tenant's rental unit. Entry should be during reasonable hours and only for such legitimate business reasons such as inspections, repairs, alterations, improvements, supplying necessary services, or showing the unit to potential buyers or renters. Only under extreme circumstances, emergencies, or as provided for under RIGL 34-18-39 (Failure to maintain) or -40 (Remedies for abandonment) can the landlord enter without notice or court order. Right of entry must not be abused or used to harass the tenant. If such actions take place, or the landlord enters without notice (note aforementioned exceptions), the tenants may go to the local district court to seek injunctive relief to prevent reoccurrences, or terminate the rental agreement. (See 5A of the "Act.")
If a request for access has been properly made, the tenant must allow reasonable entry or negotiate an alternative time. If the tenant refuses lawful access, the landlord can seek an injunction to compel access or terminate the rental agreement.
Actual damages incurred plus court costs and attorney's fees may be sought if either party has to take court action over aforementioned access problems.
Unless otherwise agreed, the tenant must use the rental unit only as a place to live.
The tenant may be required (if stipulated in the rental agreement) to notify the landlord of any intended absence from the unit, which exceeds ten days; notification (in such a case) is to be given no later than the first day of the extended absence.