Resources for Tenants

If you're a tenant in Rhode Island, you have a right to live in housing safe from lead hazards! Most landlords are required by law to have your apartment inspected for lead hazards before you move in, fix any lead problems that are there, and get a certificate that proves your apartment is safe.

If your landlord needs help paying for lead remediation in your apartment, tell them to read this page about grants, loans, and tax credits for lead hazard reduction.

Know Your Rights

The following links provide more information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Rhode Island. Also be sure to check out our links for parents.

Tenants' Rights and Resources/Derechos y Recursos para Inquilinos

Lead Poisoning Prevention Laws and Policies

File a Complaint with City Housing Code Enforcement

If you live in an apartment that should have a lead certificate and does not, you should be able to get help from your city or town government. Cities and towns are responsible for enforcing the RI Property Maintenance Code, which establishes minimum safety standards for rental properties. These minimum standards include a requirement that most pre-1978 rental properties be safe from lead hazards (but not lead-free) and have a valid (unexpired, complete) lead certificate to prove it!

Before you call your city housing code official, you can read about what types of properties need a lead certificate here, and check to see whether your apartment has had a lead certificate in the past. Although the RI Property Maintenance Code does require all rental housing to be safe, there are some exemptions to the requirement for lead inspections and lead certificates.

Housing code officials in the following cities have been trained by the Childhood Lead Action Project on the lead safety laws that protect tenants:

Get Help From a Lawyer

If your landlord is refusing to fix problems in your apartment, the following agencies may be able to give you free legal help, depending on your income and other eligibility requirements.

RI Legal Services: 401-274-2652
Offices in Providence and Newport
Call them for help with housing-related legal issues if you are:

  • A Rhode Island resident dealing with foreclosure (owner or tenant, no income eligibility limit)
  • A Rhode Island resident in subsidized housing (Section 8 vouchers, housing projects) and your apartment is not safe, you are facing eviction or your Section 8 voucher is going to be (or has been) terminated by a public housing authority.
  • A Rhode Island resident in public housing (housing owned or operated by a public housing authority and your apartment is not safe or you are facing eviction.
  • Your income is up to 125% of the FPL

Please note: unfortunately, citizenship/legal immigration status is required to receive help from RI Legal Services, due to federal policy/funding.