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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.

Shelter in Place

Effective Sunday, May 10, 2020, The portion of Executive Order 20-14 that required all Rhode Island residents to stay at home unless traveling to work, traveling for medical treatment or obtaining necessities is hereby repealed. All “vulnerable populations” identified by the CDC are “strongly advised’ to stay at hoe unless they must go out. As well, all non-critical retail businesses with a physical location in Rhode Island shall be permitted to re-open for in-store pickup and limited browsing only. Only one customer per 300 square feet of store area is allowed in. These retail businesses must operate in accordance with social distancing protocols, guidelines and regulations set forth in Executive Orders 20-24 and 20-30.

Additionally, Employers must still encourage working remotely to the greatest extent possible. Any Rhode Island employer with employees who live in other states shall use all means available to enable these employees to telecommute or make other work-from-home arrangements. This does not apply to public health, public safety, or healthcare workers.

Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 20-40 on Friday, May 29, 2020, which addresses Phase II of the state’s reopening plan to be effective Monday, June 1, 2020.

State of Emergency 

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

Evictions

Supreme Court Order

Action: The Rhode Island Supreme Court has issued an order stating that evictions may not be filed or heard until after 5/17 and that any eviction order issued prior to 3/17/20, however, can still be executed. However, the court will resume evictions on June 1, 2020. 

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

No statewide emergency rental assistance for Rhode Island.

Rent Freeze

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

Price-Gouging Laws

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.