Out of State Landlord Registration Requirements

Why its crucial for out-of-state landlords to register with the state and municipalities.


Many real estate agents and property managers are aware that some Rhode Island municipalities require nonresident landlords to register with the municipality by providing their out of state addresses.  The two primary purposes are to hold the landlord responsible for its tenant’s actions, and also, for notification of housing code violations.  Few agents or managers might be aware that hidden in the state landlord/tenant act [R.I.G.L. § 34-18-22.3] is a law, passed in 1996, requiring all nonresident landlords to register with the secretary of state’s office and the city/town clerk’s office where the property is located.  The law requires the nonresident landlord to provide an in-state agent and in-state address for service of process and notice.                       

The most important provision of the law is the penalty section for noncompliance.  If a landlord does not file, the tenant’s obligation to pay rent STOPS until the form is filed.  The tenant could raise the landlord’s non-filing as a defense in an eviction action for nonpayment of rent.  In addition, the statute imposes a $500.00 fine per violation which is paid to the municipality.  Presently, there are no court cases interpreting the law, so there are unanswered questions; such as, is a tenant entitled to a rebate of rent paid if the landlord has not filed?           

The secretary of state’s office has a form entitled, “Designation of Agent for Nonresident Landlord.”  On the form the nonresident landlord must list its name, out of state address, the in-state agent’s name and address, and list all the properties in Rhode Island for which the agent is responsible.  If the landlord has properties in different municipalities, or more than one agent, it must file separate agent designation forms.  If the landlord has only one agent, but more than one property in different municipalities, it has to file the form with the secretary of state, and with each municipality.  The landlord must sign the form prior to filing and, under penalty of perjury, swear to the truth of the information contained in the form.  If the information on the form changes, e.g., property is sold or additional property is purchased, a new form must be signed and filed.             

There is a note on the bottom of the form advising the landlord to file the form with the municipality and to check with the municipality for additional filing requirements, if any. The secretary of state’s office does not charge a filing fee.  The landlord should check with the municipality to determine if it charges a filing fee.           

Clearly it is in the best interest of the real estate agents and property managers to advise their out of state landlord clients to comply with the law and file the form with the state and municipality.  If a landlord is fined or loses rent as a result of noncompliance, it will most likely look at its Rhode Island real estate agent or property manager and ask why it was not informed of the filing requirement.


Got any legal question?  Email me at AThayer@srt-law.com


This article contains general information and is not intended to give legal advice.  If you have specific questions, you are encouraged to contact an attorney.  If you chose to contact Sayer Regan &Thayer, LLP, or to inquire concerning legal services or legal advice, please be advised that such inquiry does not create an attorney-client relationship.  An attorney-client relationship may only be established by separate agreement.  You should not send any confidential or time-sensitive information to us unless authorized by one of our attorneys.  Information sent before an attorney-client relationship is established may be determined not to be confidential.

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Joyce Campbell February 03, 2013 at 12:51 PM
I wish I had known this during the "great flood". When my landlord failed to act when two floors flooded, I called the town manager, they came out and told me the house had several building violations, then FEMA condemnded the house and I was forced to find shelter for my family...long story short, that landlord refused to refund our deposit, and demanded I pay rent while the house was condemned. Still upset they never refunded my deposit!
Joyce Campbell February 03, 2013 at 12:52 PM
I failed to mention, they lived in Conn. and didnt have anyone instate.
Ted Geisel February 04, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Joyce, I believe the statute of limitations for contracts and property damage is 10 years in RI. File a small claims case, you should be able to get your deposit back.
Shelley Mathes February 10, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I am a Property Manager, Broker Associate with William Raveis Real Estate, offering this service. Feel free to email me for any questions shelley.mathes@raveis.com


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