Rental application fee ban clears R.I. House of Representatives

By: - April 21, 2023 12:27 pm

The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent landlords from charging application fees to prospective renters. (Getty image)

A proposal to prevent prospective tenants from paying rental application fees has cleared one chamber of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Rep. Cherie Cruz (D-Pawtucket) (Photo courtesy of Rhode Island House of Representatives)

The Rhode Island House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously passed legislation eliminating housing application fees. The bill, introduced by Rep. Cherie Cruz, a Pawtucket Democrat, is part of a broader, 14-bill package aimed at addressing the housing crisis created by rising costs and lack of supply.

“We have heard from families who have spent thousands on rental application fees – without being able to secure an apartment,” Cruz said in a statement. 

“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.”

Lawmakers tweaked the bill before approving it on the floor to clarify that although landlords cannot charge application fees, they can still require background checks and credit reports from prospective tenants. However, they cannot charge a fee for that information as long as the tenants provide it within 90 days of applying, according to the amended bill.

The proposal now heads to the Senate for consideration, where a similar – though not identical – bill has already been introduced by Sen. Melissa Murray, a Woonsocket Democrat. Murray’s bill remains in committee without a hearing scheduled as of Friday.


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Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is a reporter covering State House politics along with energy and environmental issues for Rhode Island Current.