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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Assembly passes Rep. Cruz and Sen. Murray’s legislation to eliminate rental application fees
Bill is part of Speaker Shekarchi’s legislative package addressing the housing crisis in Rhode Island
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation (
) introduced by Rep. Cherie L. Cruz and Sen. Melissa A. Murray which would eliminate housing rental application fees.
The bill is part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis.
“Every day Rhode Islanders are increasingly struggling to provide for their families. When combined with the rising costs of housing and the lack of acceptable and safe inventory, rental application fees are an obstacle and problem for our most vulnerable residents in search of housing. We have heard from families who have spent thousands on rental application fees – without being able to secure an apartment. Eliminating these burdensome fees will help our struggling residents and families during their already frustrating pursuit of housing, and a step in the right direction in leveling the playing field in our state,” said Representative Cruz (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket).
“Renters are not guaranteed anything for their money when they pay an application fee to rent an apartment. And because of the difficulty in obtaining housing in our state, a renter may have to apply to apartment after apartment before they are able to secure housing. That can add up to hundreds of dollars in fees — on top of high rents, security deposits, and moving expenses that already burden Rhode Island families and individuals. Application fees are an unnecessary barrier to housing and just another contributor to housing affordability problems in our state,” said Senator Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield).
If a prospective tenant provides a required official state criminal background check or credit report issued within 90 days of the application for a rental unit, no fee for such official state criminal background check and/or credit report may be charged by the respective landlord, lessor, sub-lessor, real estate broker, property management company or designee. If a prospective tenant does not provide a required official state background check and/or credit report issued within 90 days of the application for a rental unit, then the landlord, lessor, sub-lessor, real estate broker, property management company or designee may charge the prospective tenant a fee representing not more than the actual cost of obtaining the official state background check and/or credit report. Any prospective tenant who is charged a fee under this subsection for a background check or credit report shall be provided with a copy of the background check or credit report.
The bill does not prohibit the landlord, lessor, sub-lessor, real estate broker, property management company or designee from obtaining an independent background check or credit report at the landlord's own expense.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request