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COVID-19 Information for Rhode Island

The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.

State and Local Affiliates

Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.

State Legal and Regulatory Information

We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.

Reopening Order

Rhode Island is currently in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. Under Phase 3, private gatherings must be limited to no more than 15 people.

Face Mask Mandate

Governor Raimondo began requiring any person over the age of 2 must wear face coverings inside commercial businesses and in outdoor public spaces. 

State of Emergency 

While the state has not declared a state of emergency, many municipalities within the state have declared emergencies.

Eviction

Status: Eviction Can Resume (Remote) as of June 2.

Supreme Court Order (Expired)

  • Action: The Rhode Island Supreme Court has issued an order stating that evictions may not be filed or heard until after May 17, 2020 and that any eviction order issued prior to March 17, 2020, however, can still be executed. However, the court will resume evictions on June 1, 2020. 

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

A $7 million rental assistance initiative is being launched for Rhode Island residents struggling to pay their rent amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the state is teaming up with the United Way to help up to 7,000 residents in helping to pay back rent.

Under the Safe Harbor program, residents and housing providers will have opportunities to work towards solutions outside of courts to avoid evictions. For households that qualify, Safe Harbor can help with up to six months of rent arrearages accumulated on or after March 1, 2020. Legal services may also be available for renters who do not otherwise have representation.

Help is available for income-eligible residents who are experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 emergency and are at risk of eviction as a result. Housing providers may initiate the application process on behalf of tenants who they believe to be eligible.

In order to receive assistance, tenants must meet the following criteria:

  • The household earns at or below 80% of Area Median Income, adjusted for family size; and
  • The household is in arrears because of financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Interested applicants should call 211 or fill out the online forms in order to start the screening and application process.

Rent Freeze

No rent freeze is in effect at the state or local level. There is no statute preempting local rent regulation.

Price-Gouging Law

Under Rhode Island Code § 6.13.21, it is unlawful to engage in sales practices that offer essential commodities at unconscionably high prices during a declaration of emergency. High prices are identified as having a gross disparity between the price of a good or service and the average price of a good or service 30 days prior to the declaration of emergency. Essential commodities have been defined, but not limited to, petroleum and gas products, food, water, ice, chemicals, and lumber. Rent housing or shelter are not specifically identified within this statutory language.